The marketing of fruit and vegetables is governed by EC Regulation 1580/2007, as amended, EC Regulation 2898/95 (which covers unripened green bananas) and the Marketing of Fresh Horticultural Produce Regulations 2009.
There are two types of standard, the “General Marketing Standard” and the “Specific Marketing Standard”.
The Specific Marketing Standard
The Specific Marketing Standard applies to the following fruits and salad crops:
- table grapes;
- citrus fruit;
- peaches and nectarines;
- lettuce and endives;
- sweet peppers;
- unripened green bananas.
There are Specific Marketing Standards for each of these products which must be met before they can be marketed.
Where the Specific Marketing Standards apply the produce should be classed (graded). There are three classes for such products: “extra class” (for superior quality produce), “class I” (for good quality produce) and “class II” (for reasonable quality produce).
The products should be labelled with the identity of the packer or dispatcher, the quality class of the produce, the variety and the size and weight or count in the container.
If a product does not meet the Specific Marketing Standard but does meet the General Marketing Standard it can still be sold as long as it is clearly labelled “intended for processing” or using equivalent wording.
The General Marketing Standard
The General Marketing Standard applies to most other types of fruit, vegetables, nuts, herbs and mushrooms. The following products are, however, excluded from the marketing standards altogether:
- wild mushrooms;
- chilli peppers;
- brazil nuts;
- bitter almonds;
- shelled almonds;
- shelled hazelnuts;
- shelled walnuts;
- pine nuts;
- sweet potatoes;
Produce to which the General Marketing Standard applies is subject to minimum quality requirements, minimum maturity requirements and is required to be marked with its origin.
In order for a product to comply with the minimum quality requirements the product (or in the case of batches at least 90% of the products, in terms of number or weight) must be:
- sound (excluding products that are unfit for consumption by reason of rotting or deterioration);
- clean (they must be practically free of any visible foreign matter);
- practically free from pests;
- practically free from damage caused by pests affecting the flesh;
- free of abnormal external moisture;
- free of any foreign smell and/ or taste;
- capable of withstanding transport and handling; and
- capable of arriving at the place of destination in a satisfactory condition.
In order to meet the minimum maturity requirements a product must be sufficiently developed and display satisfactory ripeness so as to enable the product to continue the ripening process and to reach a satisfactory degree of ripeness.
Products must be marked with the full name of the country of origin. In the case of products originating from a Member State the country of origin should be stated in the language of the country of origin or in a language which consumers of the country of destination can understand. For products not originating from a Member State the country of origin should be stated in the language which consumers of the country of destination can understand.