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Does Europe really dictate the size of cucumbers?

Legislation
Fact-check

CheckNews, France

13 March 2019, Updated: 29 March 2019

The size of cucumbers (and other vegetables) is often used as an example of the absurdity of European bureaucracy. In 2016, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy joked about the curve of cucumbers being regulated by the EU. If the curve of the cucumber came for a time to stand for the absurdity of certain European regulations, this is no longer the case today.

A European Commission regulation from June 15th 1988 established “quality standards for cucumbers”. In order to be sold in European shops, cucumbers had to fall within minimum standards of weight, size and… curve. For example, an extra-large cucumber should be “well shaped and practically straight (maximum height of the arc: 10 mm per 10 cm of length)”.

In 1996, 36 fruits and vegetables were governed by specific trading standards. But, conscious of how counterproductive this regulation was, the Commission sought to change the situation. The standards were revised and repealed back in 2008 for 26 of those fruits and vegetables, and since July 1st 2009, the European cucumber can have any curve it wants.

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