Bananas and Brussels


September 21, 1994
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Myth: Curved bananas have been banned by Brussels bureaucrats, with shops ordered not to sell fruit which is too small or abnormally bent.
Sources: The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express (21 September 1994)

Truth: Yes … and no. Curved bananas have not been banned. In fact, as with the supposed banning of curved cucumbers, the Commission regulation classifies bananas according to quality and size for the sake of easing the trade of bananas internationally.

Quality standards are necessary in order that people buying and ordering bananas can rest assured that what they are getting lives up to their expectations. INdividual EU member states have tended to have their own standards, as has the industry (whose standards are often very stringent). The European Commission was asked by the Council of Ministers and the industry to prepare a draft regulation laying down EU quality standards, and this has been the subject of consultation for some time now. As such it represents a consensus position. The following points should be noted however:

1) These are minimal rules, applied slely to green, unripe bananas, rather than those destined for the processing industry.
2) These standards should improve the quality of banans produced within the Commmunity. They should thus be able command a higher price in the Community markets. This should also help reduce Community aid and therefore relieve pressure on the Community budget.
3) Far from being an intereference in trade these norms should facilitate it throughout the Community

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