METHODS OF COMMERCIAL QUALITY CONTROL:

The following methods of verification are based on guidelines on the subject of implementing quality control of fresh fruit and vegetables, adopted in the framework of the OECD system regarding the application of international norms for fruit and vegetables.

Verification of compliance is carried out through assessment of samples randomly taken from various places in the lot which is to be controlled. This is based on the assumption that sample quality is representative of the quality of the whole lot.

Place of verification

Verification of compliance may be conducted during the packing operation, at the point of shipment, during transport, at the destination, and at each stage of retail commerce. 

Lot identification or obtaining a general impression on the subject of shipment

Lot identification is conducted on the basis of its marking or other criteria, such as markings determined according to Council directive 89/396/EEC. With respect to shipments consisting of a few lots, it is necessary that the inspector gain a general impression on the subject of a given shipment based on accompanying documents or notes concerning these shipments. Next, the inspector determines to what extent the presented lots correspond to the information contained in these documents.

Product presentation

The inspector decides which packages are to be checked. The procedure should include the presentation by the sample operator, as well as the providing of all information necessary for identification of the shipment or lot. If reduced or secondary samples are required, these are separated from the collective sample by the inspector.

Physical verification:

  • Confirmation of the type of packaging and presentation:

A package, along with the material used for packing, is checked with regard to its suitability and cleanliness in relation to the appropriate commercial norms. In the case of a packaged product, this is conducted with the aid of initial samples, and for all the remainder of products on the basis of the vehicle’s load. If only certain types of package or presentation are admissible, the inspector checks whether these have been used.

Verification of markings:

The inspector checks whether the product has been marked according to the appropriate marketing standards. This includes checking the preciseness of marking or the scope of required changes.

In the case of a packaged product, this is carried out with the aid of initial samples, and for the remainder of products on the basis of documentation attached to the pallet or vehicle load.

Fruit and vegetables individually wrapped in foil are recognised as packaged consumer items in the understanding of directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and Council, and do not necessarily need to be marked according to marketing standards. In such cases, individual foil packaging may be recognised as simple protection of delicate products.

Verification of product compliance:

The inspector determines the size of the initial sample in such a manner as to allow assessment of a given lot. He chooses packages at random which are to be controlled, or in the case of loose products, the places in the lot from which he takes the individual samples.

Care should be taken so that the taking of samples does not negatively influence the product’s quality.

Damaged packaging is not used as part of the initial sample. They should be set aside and may, if necessary, be subject to separate testing and verification.

In each case, when the lot proves to be unsatisfactory or it is necessary to check the risk of a product’s lack of compliance with the commercial norm, a collective sample should contain the following amounts:

Packaged product

Number of packages in lot

Number of packages to take (initial samples)

to 100

5

from 101 to 300

7

from 301 to 500

9

from 501 to 1000

10

over 1000

15 (minimum)

 

Loose products

(loaded directly onto the vehicle or its allocated part)

Size of lot in kg or number of bunches in lot

Number of initial samples in kg or number of bunches

to 200

10

from 201 to 500

20

from 501 to 1000

30

from 1001 to 5 000

60

over 5000

100 (minimum)

 

In the case of heavy fruit or vegetables (items weighing more than 2 kg), initial samples should consist of at least five items. In the case of lots containing less than 5 packages or of weight less than 10 kg, the whole lot is checked.

If, after conducting the verification, the inspector determines that making a decision is not possible, he may carry out another control and present the general result as the average of the two.

Product verification

In the case of a packaged product, initial samples are used to check the general appearance of products, their presentation, cleanliness of packaging and labelling. In all other cases, verification is conducted on the basis of lots or vehicle loads.

For verification of compliance, the product must be completely removed from the package. The inspector may resign from this only if composite samples have been taken.

Verification of the uniformity, fulfilment of minimum requirements, quality class and size is conducted on the basis of collective or composite samples and in consideration of guidelines published by the OECD on the subject of the system regarding the application of international norms for fruit and vegetables (http://www.oecd.org/agriculture/fruit-vegetables).

If defects are discovered, the inspector determines what percentage of the product does not meet standards, in terms of volume or weight.

External defects are checked on the basis of collective or composite samples. Fulfilment of certain criteria in the area of degree of development or ripeness, or the occurrence or lack of internal defects, may be checked on the basis of reduced samples. Controls based on reduced samples are used above all if the method of control damages the marketable value of the product.

Fulfilment of criteria in the area of degree of development or ripeness is checked according to methods described in guidelines for the objective quality testing of fruit and vegetables as well as dry and dried products (http://www.oecd.org/agriculture/fruit-vegetables).

 

[i] Material written on the basis of: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/pl/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32011R0543