EU forces market trader to pulp thousands of kiwi fruit because they're ONE MILLIMETRE too small
A market trader has been banned from selling a batch of kiwi fruits because they are 1mm smaller than EU rules allow.
Inspectors told 53-year- old Tim Down he is forbidden even to give away the fruits, which are perfectly healthy.
The father of three will now have to bin the 5,000 kiwis, costing him £1,000 in lost sales.
Speaking yesterday from the stall in Bristol he has owned for 20 years, Mr Down said: 'It's total nonsense. I work hard enough to make a living without all these bureaucrats telling us what we can and can't sell.
'They're saying I'm a criminal for selling this fruit, but the real crime is that all this fruit will go to waste - all because it's 1mm too small.
'It's a terrible waste, particularly when we're all feeling the pinch from rising food prices and I've got to throw away this perfectly good fruit.'
The case comes only two weeks after the European Commission said it wants to relax rules on misshapen fruit and vegetables.
It could eventually mean an end to notorious bans on straight bananas, curved cucumbers and skinny carrots.
But that will bring little comfort to Mr Down in the meantime.
He took over Percy J Down wholesalers in 1988, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Enlarge Tim Down
Tim Down with his illegal consignment of Kiwi fruits. The greengrocer will lose £1,000 because EU regulators say the fruits are one millimetre too small
Last week, he ordered 75 boxes of Chilean kiwis from an importer in Kent, paying £525 for the batch of 12,000 fruits.
The kiwis were on sale for 20p each from his 15,000sq ft stall at the Wholesale Fruit Centre in Bristol. Mr Down sold 44 of the boxes and was expecting to make a profit from the remaining 5,000 fruits.
But that was before he received a visit by inspectors from the Rural Payments Agency - part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The inspectors conducted a random check to see if Mr Down's produce met strict European laws.
The regulations state that Class II kiwis must weigh a minimum of 62g - around 21/4oz.
But the two-hour inspection revealed that a number of the batch weighed 58g, or about 2oz. Kiwi fruit
Close inspection: The legal Kiwi fruit is on the left, while the 'too small' illegal Kiwi fruit is on the right
Mr Down said that, in effect, this meant there were a mere 1mm, or 1/25 of an inch, too small in diameter.
Selling them - or giving them away - carries a fine of up to £5,000.
The Rural Payments Agency insists the rules are in place to ensure quality and uniformity.
Barrie Stedman, head of the agency's inspectorate, said: ' Unfortunately the kiwi consignment in question failed to meet the minimum standards for saleable produce, in contravention of EU grading rules.'