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Couple of general recommendations for pre-Christmas shopping

03/05/2015
 

Sale of fruit and vegetables

Offered fruit and vegetables have to be in one piece and healthy. Sale of products affected by rot or lower quality to such extent that they are not suitable for consumption is not allowed.                                                          
Products on sale must not be damaged mechanically or by frost, they have to be without pests or damaged by pests and of course without foreign smell or taste (for example, as regards citruses, fruit is acid or bitter in case of damage by frost which leads to changes in taste. Bananas get black by frost and potatoes get sweet). Frost causes damage of plant tissues and fruit and vegetables become more prone to rotting processes.
  • During purchase attention should be paid to the clearness of the offered fruit and vegetables, their damage by pests or diseases or damage by mishandling and by unsuitable storing conditions.
  • Attention should be paid to cut or sliced products which are suitable for direct consumption or use in the kitchen. Fruit cut into halves, quarters, cubes, slices, etc. fall within this category. Exception applies to these products laying down that keeping of marketing standards is not required as regards such fruit and vegetables. However, cut or sliced fruit and vegetables have to be safe and unwholesome, they must be offered for sale in compliance with hygiene conditions. That means that offered products must not be affected by mould or rot, they must not be heavily dirty or damaged by pests.
  • Since 1. 7. 2009, new European legislation pursuant to which only following sorts of fruit and vegetables are ranked among quality categories shall apply: apples, pears, citruses, kiwi, peaches and nectarines, strawberries, table wine grapes, salad, endive, paprika and tomatoes. Other sorts of fruits and vegetables are not classified into categories, they thus must not be labelled by quality category. On the contrary, all other sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables have to labelled by a country of origin without any exception.
  • Cheap bigger packagings of oranges or tangerines sometimes hide rotten fruit on the bottom. If the consumer finds out at home that there are rotten fruit in the packaging, it is good to go back to the shop with the bill confirming the sale of the foodstuffs and insist on exchange of the goods or money return. Do not be afraid to complaint about goods. Expressing dissatisfaction consumers can remedy the situation by themselves.
  • By the end of the year you can encounter tangerines and oranges that lack their typical orange colour on the whole surface, moreover, green colour could be present as well. Colour deviation should not exceed one third of the surface of a tangerine and one fifth of the surface of an orange. They are not unripened fruit at all. Citruses sometimes go under artificial “removal of green” and original colour appears on the places where the fruit touch each other. You do not have to be scared of fruit with such adjustment. Removal of green is similar process as ripening of bananas.
  • As regards selected citruses and citruses of Ist quality category, the skin of a citrus fruit shall be firmly stuck on the product. Slight and partial loosening is allowed at IInd quality category of oranges and tangerines. However, this exception does not apply to lemons and grapefruits in any cases. The loosening occurs during advanced ripening when the content of juice in the fruit gradually decreases.


Skin of citrus fruit:

  • When growing citruses, a range of protective chemical substances is used, further ones work as preservatives after harvest. During the sale it must be indicated, inter alia, that the fruit was treated by preservatives or other chemical substances after the harvest.
  • All mentioned substances are contained in the skin only. The own pulp could be thus consumed without any concerns. Washing hands after peeling citruses is recommended. Just the juice from the skin may contain the highest amount of pesticides.
  • Sold candied skin of citruses is obtained from fruit specially grown for these purposes.


Potatoes

In these months, consumers are offered late consumable potatoes, both washed or unwashed. The most significant deficiencies as regards late consumable potatoes is occurrence of rot, grey and black stains in the pulp, mechanical damages, general scabrousness and presence of sprouts (legislation allows only sprouts no longer than 3 mm). The temperature of the storing and sale should not be lower than +2 °C (storing during lower temperatures causes that potatoes get sweet). If potatoes are exposed to temperatures under zero, even during a short period, they get frozen and according to the Decree, they cannot be offered for sale anymore. Potatoes damaged by frost get wet and their pulp under the skin shows lower resistance when touched after fast warming in a palm for few minutes.
  • Late consumable potatoes shall be labelled with their sort and boiling type. The boiling type determines the use of consumable potatoes and makes deciding during purchasing  (for salads, side dish, for pastry or mash) easier.
  • Tubers should not be green
  • Potatoes shouldn’t be damaged by rot or mechanically damaged or sprouted.


Exotic nuts

Similarly to all other sorts of foodstuffs, also as for nuts there are some rules that should be kept by consumers not to bring home poor-quality goods and in particular to prevent the risk of health threath, which can sometimes happen at shelled fruit. Kernels of all sorts of nuts are typical for high content of quality oil containing a significant proportion of non-saturated fat acids favourable to human organism. After long storage they can oxidise - get rancid. It is very difficult to prevent this process, therefore consumers should check their aroma already during the purchase. Musty smell signifies low quality nuts and it is better not to purchase them. If we find out at home that we bought a low-quality product, complaining about it is recommended. There are also some pests on certain sorts of nuts, sometimes even living, e.g. in case of edible maroons. Fortunately, this defect could be revealed after detailed observation as the shell (or skin) can be pierced. Edible maroons are sometimes offered as sprouted - with a root and sprout. Such products significantly lose their quality, as starch become decay to more simple sugars and their taste is not exactly agreeable. It is a sign that maroons were not dried enough after the harvest.

Sale of fruit, vegetables and potatoes on the market places

Sale of consumable potatoes, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables on public market places in the period of frosts bears one risk. According to quality requirements laid down by Czech standards, inter alia, basic conditions have to be met, namely that products must not be damaged by low temperatures or frost. If such violation of quality occurs, products must not be placed on the market as they are permanently and irreversibly damaged. There are no limits for temperatures at which these products cannot be sold, though, it is up to each entrepreneur to ensure appropriate selling conditions to keep the prescribed quality.
Damage by frost does not have to be revealed by common assessment during the purchase by a laic. Defects of such products appear only at home when the temperature of the foodstuff and ambient temperature get equalized and the consistency of the products changes. The typical colour as well as the taste is changed. Plant tissues are damaged by the effect of the frost and undesirable sensorial, quality and microbiological changes (putrefaction) could occur.