You say tomato …

An international standard for tomatoes has been adopted, ending about seven years of intense debates between countries on what qualifies as a proper tomato.

According to the new standard, tomatoes may come in one of four varieties: round, ribbed, oblong or elongated; or cherry tomatoes and cocktail tomatoes.

They must be whole, clean, free from foreign smell, free of pests and fresh in appearance.

”In the case of trusses of tomatoes, the stalks must be fresh, healthy, clean and free of all leaves and other visible foreign matter,” according to the so-called Codex standard.

A commission called Codex Alimentarius was created in 1963 by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation to come up with food standards and guidelines on food products.

There are international standards for all kinds of food produce ranging from edam cheese to bananas to fish fillets.

They facilitate trade, as they provide a common interpretation of what constitutes a sound product to importing and exporting countries.

Tom Heilandt, a senior food standards adviser at the FAO, explained that one such international standard was needed for tomatoes, in order to protect importing countries.

”Many developing countries in particular said that they needed this standard so that they ensure that they would get the right quality of products that they ordered,” he said. — Sapa-AFP

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