Thursday, 17 July 2008

Strange fruit

Regular readers will know that I have an unfortunate habit of upsetting Tory farmers at Defra questions. They will also know there's been a bit of an issue locally about a grocer who got into trouble with the Rural Payments Agency for selling kiwi fruits which were smaller than they should be. Well I finally got round to raising it at Defra questions today. I was on the order paper at Q14 but had to jump in on an earlier question about regulation as I calculated (correctly it turned out) that they wouldn't quite make it to me. So my question was something along the lines of, isn't this, in an era of rising food prices and growing food shortages, EU regulation gone mad and can't we trust it to the consumer to decide how big a kiwi he/she wants to buy? Cue cheers from the Tory benches and cries of 'come and join us!' Oh dear.


Devil's Kitchen said...

Fair enough, Kerry. And what was the answer to your question?


Kerry said...

It's on my website, but here it is again.

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol, East) (Lab): I know that at least one of the ministerial team is aware of the case in my constituency of the greengrocer who was prohibited from selling kiwi fruit because they were 4g too light. What plans are being made to review the EU grading laws and does he believe that, in an era of rising food prices and shortages, such decisions are best left to the consumer, instead of being the subject of regulation?

Mr. Woolas: I have been informed about this particular case. My hon. Friend will accept that it is important that we have rules for quality produce, as that is what the buyers want and what the consumers want, as is supported across the House. The vast majority of traders play by the rules and do not want to be undermined by those who do not. However, we are of course aware of the case that my hon. Friend raises.

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made in discussions on revising the EU grading rules for fruit and vegetables. (This was my original tabled question, which was answered in writing because we didn't get to it in orals).

Jonathan Shaw: The June 2007 Agriculture Council agreed to a package of reforms to the CAP fruit and vegetables sector, since when the European Commission have been taking forward the implementation of the new regime. This includes revised rules on marketing standards which are currently under discussion in the Fruit and Vegetables Management Committee.