EU must be joking!

A supermarket chain has been given a frightening warning not to sell its Hallowe’en vegetables because the odd-shaped items don’t meet EU regulations.

Sainsbury’s stores across Hampshire were expecting to use the spooky season to sell misshapen carrots as witches’ fingers, undersized cauliflowers as zombies’ brains and bendy cucumbers as ogres’ toenails.

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The ‘Hallowe’en range’ would have been sold at up to 40 per cent cheaper than standard produce, but just days before they were due to go on display supermarket bosses were warned that each store manager could face prosecution for selling the goods because they would be breaking European Union law.

Store manager at Sainsbury’s in Lordshill, Gordon Silvester, said: “I think it’s totally crazy that I could have ended up with a criminal conviction – all for selling a wonky carrot.

“We’re not allowed to use up to 20 per cent of what’s produced in this country, and in the current credit crunch climate we can’t continue to waste this much food before it even leaves the farms.

“Buying wonky veg would have saved cash-strapped Southampton shoppers up to 40 per cent on some items such as carrots. It not only saves money, it also reduces waste and supports our British farmers.”

Campaign The supermarket firm has now launched a Save Our Ugly Fruit and Veg campaign and started an online poll to get the EU to relax laws on selling cheaper fresh produce.

Farmers have also hit out at the ban on imperfect produce, which means that up to 20 per cent of onions and 15 per cent of carrots grown in Britain go to waste as soon as they come out of the ground.

NFU horticulture board chairman Richard Hirst said: “Farmers and growers work extremely hard to produce quality food but nature does not always comply with a perfectly rounded apple and poker-straight carrot.

“People should be given the chance to buy odd-shaped fruit and veg as they taste just as good.”

Founder of parenting website Siobhan Freegard has also joined the campaign.

“Fruit and vegetables are created by the wonder of nature, not manufactured in factories to minute specifications, and generally they end up chopped, diced or sliced into meals anyway,” she said.

Sainsbury’s bosses have now written to the EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hilary Benn expressing their concerns.

An EU spokesman said that the EU had “no interest” in bringing infringement procedures against Sainsbury’s for selling misshapen fruit and veg, when the commission itself no longer wanted the 20-year-old regulations in place.