Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2257/94
|European Union regulation|
|Text with EEA relevance|
|Made by||European Commission|
|Journal reference||L245, pp. 6-10|
|Came into force||1995-01-01|
This article is part of a series on the
Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2257/94 of 16 September 1994 laying down quality standards for bananas, also known informally as bendy banana law, is a European Union regulation specifying minimum standards for bananas, which took effect on 1 January 1995.
The regulation applies to unripened green bananas, and thus to growers and wholesalers rather than retailers. The main provisions of the regulation are that bananas sold as unripened, green bananas should be green and unripened, firm and intact, fit for human consumption, not rotten, clean, free of pests and damage from pests, free from deformation or abnormal curvature, free from bruising, free of any foreign smell or taste. The minimum size (with tolerances and exceptions) is a length of 14 cm and a thickness (grade) of 2.7 cm. It specifies minimum standards for specific quality classifications of bananas (Extra, Class I, Class II). Only Extra class bananas have to comply fully with the shape specifications. Class II bananas, for instance are permitted to have "defects of shape"; Class I bananas are permitted only "slight defects of shape". This is not true, however, of the size specifications; sale of bananas below the minimum size is almost always prohibited (with exceptions only for bananas from a few regions where bananas are traditionally smaller).
This regulation requires that bananas of the highest quality classification not have "abnormal curvature", something that led to various stories about an EU ban on either curved or excessively curved bananas. This has been frequently repeated by pro-Europeans and Euro-sceptics alike; the former tending to regard it as an apocryphal or misleading Euromyth and the latter regarding it as an example of needless European bureaucracy.
On 29 July 2008, the European Commission held a preliminary vote concerning the repeal of certain regulations related to the quality of specific fruit and vegetables that included provisions related to size and shape. According to the Commission's press release, "In this era of high prices and growing demand, it makes no sense to throw these products away or destroy them." The Agriculture Commissioner stated, "This is a concrete example of our drive to cut red tape and I will continue to push until it goes through. [...] It shouldn't be the EU's job to regulate these things. It is far better to leave it to market operators." Regulation 1221/2008 took effect as of 1 July 2009. Though neither the press release cited above nor Regulation 1221/2008 made any mention of bananas or Regulation 2257/94, some reports of the changes treated them as including the banana quality standards regulation and contained explicit or apparent references this regulation, using expressions such as "the infamous 'straight banana' ruling". Some sources have claimed this to be an admission that the original regulations did indeed ban "bent bananas", or that it was accepted that it was "a farce". The European Commission has pointed out that as of April 2009[update] the specific rules for bananas have not been repealed.
- "Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2257/94 of 16 September 1994 laying down quality standards for bananas (as amended)" (pdf). Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- "What if Rupert Murdoch hadn't bought The Sun?". The Independent (London). 2003-08-12. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- "Guide to the best euromyths". BBC News. 2007-03-23. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
. . . the commissioners have no problem with straight bananas, it's the crooked ones they don't like so much, but they have never banned them. As Commission Regulation (EC) 2257/94 puts it, bananas must be "free from malformation or abnormal curvature". In the case of "Extra class" bananas, there is no wiggle room, but Class 1 bananas can have "slight defects of shape", and Class 2 bananas can have full-on "defects of shape".
- Stanyer, James (2007). Modern Political Communication: Mediated Politics in Uncertain Times (revised ed.). Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-2797-7.
- The Sun. 1996-06-24. p. 11. Missing or empty
- "Euromyths: Curved bananas". Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Uhlig, Robert (26 Jun 2002). "Yes, we can have curved bananas, judges decide". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- European Commission. "Outcome of Commission meeting of 23 July 2008". Retrieved 2009-10-06.
European Union Member States yesterday held a preliminary vote on Commission proposals to repeal specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruit and vegetables. While not binding, the vote gives a strong indication that these standards will be repealed when the formal vote is taken later in the year. The Member States did not reach a qualified majority either for or against the proposal. If, after allowing time for appropriate scrutiny by our trading partners, this vote were repeated later in the year, the rules would be repealed under the Commission's responsibility. The Commission's initiative to get rid of these standards followed a declaration made last year during the reform of the Common Market Organisation for fruit and vegetables. It is a major element in the Commission's ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify the rules and cut red tape. The proposal would also allow Member States to exempt fruit and vegetables from specific marketing standards if they are sold with a label "products intended for processing" or equivalent wording. Such products could be either misshapen or under-sized and could for example be used by consumers for cooking or salads etc. In this era of high prices and growing demand, it makes no sense to throw these products away or destroy them. "This is a concrete example of our drive to cut red tape and I will continue to push until it goes through," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "It shouldn't be the EU's job to regulate these things. It is far better to leave it to market operators. It will also cut down on unnecessary waste and benefit consumers." The proposals would maintain specific marketing standards for 10 products which account for 75 percent of the value of EU trade: apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes, tomatoes. Member States could exempt even these from the standards if they were sold in the shops with an appropriate label. They would abolish specific standards for 26 products: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons, witloof/chicory, while setting new general minimum standards for the marketing of fruit and vegetables. For practical reasons, all of these changes would be implemented from 1 July 2009.
- Swaine, Jon (2008-07-24). "Bent banana and curved cucumber rules dropped: EU rules banning bent bananas and curved cucumbers are set to be scrapped.". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-10-09.
A majority of EU member states, including Britain and Ireland, have voted to reform rules like EC Commission Regulation No 2257/94
- Alyn Smith MEP (2009-06-29). "Bye To Bendy Banana Ban". Retrieved 2009-10-09.
The new regulations will allow the sale of curvy cucumbers, curious carrots and bendy bananas where previously irregular shaped fruit and veg was usually only used in processed food.
- Daniel Hannan MEP (2008-11-12). "Bent bananas not a Euromyth after all". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-09-22.
- Darnton, John (1994-10-06). "The Bent-Banana Ban and Other British Gibes at Europe". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
The banana story began with a page-one article last week in The Sun, which reported that 'Brussels bureaucrats proved yesterday what a barmy bunch they are -- by outlawing curved bananas.'
- George Pascoe-Watson (2008-07-24). "EU to lift their bent banana ban". The Sun. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
Most of the EU's 27 member states agreed the ruling was a farce.
- "Agricultural Product Quality Policy: Impact Assessment Annex a(ii):Marketing Standards" (pdf). 2009-04-08. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
an eleventh fruit (bananas) is still covered by a specific marketing standard.
- "Commission Regulation (EC) No 2257/94 of 16 September 1994 laying down quality standards for bananas (as amended)" (pdf). Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- "Original text of regulation (before amendments)". Retrieved 2009-10-05.