A wholesaler has been banned from selling a consignment of kiwi fruits because EU laws deemed them too small.
Tim Down, a market trader for 25 years, said he was not permitted even to give away the 5,000 Chilean fruits, each of which is about the size of a small hen's egg and weighs about 60g.
Mr Down said his family run firm would lose several hundred pounds in sales because of the ban.
"It is bureaucratic nonsense, they are perfectly fit to eat," Mr Down said at his stall at the Wholesale Fruit Centre in Bristol.
Inspectors from the Rural Payments Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), made a random check on his stall, and found a number of his kiwis weighed 58g, four grams below the required minimum of 62g.
Mr Down said that 4g in weight was the equivalent of about one millimeter in diameter.
He said: "They (the inspectors) went through a lot of my stock using their own little scales.
"These regulations are enforced in the United Kingdom with a higher level of rigour than is applied in mainland Europe. There is not a level playing field.
"This fruit will now go to waste at a time when we are all feeling the pinch from rising prices." He said there would also be the environmental cost of taking the fruits to a landfill site.
Mr Down said he was not permitted by law to give away the kiwis to a school or hostel and faced a fine of several thousand pounds if he did.
Barry Stedman, head of the Rural Payments Agency's inspectorate, said the consignment had failed to meet the minimum standards for saleable produce, in contravention of EU grading rules.
"The inspector's decision is consistent with RPA's commitment to protect consumers, who must feel confident that the produce they are buying is of the right quality," he said.
"RPA's role is to work with traders to provide advice and assistance to ensure that this happens and to help traders carry out their business within the law."
The agency said Mr Down has been given a number of options, including sending the fruit back to the importer.
The European Commission said recently that it wanted to relax the regulations which prevented misshapen or underweight fruit and vegetables being sold.
The rules have previously banished curved cucumbers, straight bananas and skinny carrots.
"The inspectors visit us on a random basis, probably two to three times monthly and select items at random that they wish to inspect," said Mr Down.
"The latest inspection took place subsequent to the announcement by the EC that the regulations are being modified.
"We have had many items rejected over the years, but this, for a variety of reasons, is one of the most nonsensical."
By Richard Savill
Story from Telegraph News:
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