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Fresh or frozen berries can be exported to the European Union when they fulfil all the requirements set by EU legislation.
Food business operators – including final importers –must be able to trace and identify where products come from and where they are going and provide this information to health and safety authorities if required.
If a food business operator has reason to believe that imported food is not in compliance with food safety requirements, they shall immediately begin withdrawing the food in question and inform the required authorities.
Minimum requirements for imported berry fruits include:
- Being intact and undamaged
- Practically free of any visible foreign matter
- Fresh in appearance, but not washed
- Have a reasonably uniform colour that is characteristic of the fruit type and variety, and free from uncoloured berries
- Sufficiently developed and display satisfactory ripeness and characteristic shape
- Withstand transportation and handling
- Contents must be uniform and contain strawberries of the same origin, variety and quality
The only ingredient that is allowed for frozen berries is sugar (sucrose, invert sugar and its syrup, dextrose, fructose, and glucose syrup in liquid or dried form).
In addition, the following also apply:
- Freezing must be done so that the temperature range of maximum crystallisation is done quickly using only air, oxygen, or carbon dioxide. This quick freezing process is considered complete when the temperature has reached -18°C at the thermal centre of the fruit.
- This temperature may change (up to 3°C) during transport and local distribution.
- These quick frozen berries can then be presented as:
- Free-flowing (individual frozen berries)
- Non free-flowing (berries frozen in a block)
- Crumbled (berries broken into pieces)
- A combination of crumbled and whole berries as frozen is allowed
- After thawing berries should not lose more than 5% of their juice.
- The minimum brix level (amount of sucrose in solution) of frozen berries should be at least 7-8° Bx.
- Berry fruits prepared with dry sugars should have a thawed liquid extract solids content between 18-35% m/m expressed as sucrose.
- Berry fruits prepared with syrup should not have more syrup than what is needed to cover the berries and fill the spaces between them. The total soluble solids content of the liquid extracted from thawed berries should not be between 15-30% m/m expressed as sucrose.
Packages (or labels attached to pre-packaged berries) must display:
- NAME UNDER WHICH THE PRODUCT IS SOLD.
- Unless specific EU or national provisions apply, the name should be a customary name or a description.
- A trademark, brand name or fancy name may be used in addition to the generic name.
- The label should mention whether frozen berries are whole, in a block, or as a crumble.
- It should also mention whether the berries have been frozen or quick frozen.
- It is popular to specify the variety of berry and its brix level.
- LIST OF INGREDIENTS, INCLUDING ADDITIVES.
- Exception: foods consisting of a single ingredient, where the name of the food is identical to the name of the ingredient or enables the nature of the ingredient to be clearly identified.
- You must always indicate any substances that might cause allergic reactions.
- NET QUANTITY
- MINIMUM DURABILITY DATE. Format: "best before DD/MM/YYYY"
- SPECIAL CONDITIONS FOR STORAGE OR USE
- NAME OR BUSINESS NAME AND ADDRESS of the manufacturer, packager, or seller established in the EU.
- For pre-packaged goods, the name and address of the seller established in the European Union should be mentioned with the phase "Packed for…" or equivalent.
- The labelling should also include a code to represent the packer and/or dispatcher.
- The seller will also give all information needed to explain the code to the inspection body.
- PLACE OF ORIGIN OR PROVENANCE, where its omission could be misleading for consumers.
- LOT MARKING on pre-packaged foodstuffs.
- Format: "L..."
- The berries must be packed in a way as to protect the produce appropriately.
- Any material used inside the packaging must be clean and avoid causing damage to the produce.
- If a packing medium is used, it should mention the phrase: "with (name of the sweetener and whether as such or as the syrup)" as well as the batch number.
In the case of retail packaging product labelling must be in compliance with the EU Regulation 1169/2011. This regulation entered into application on 13 December 2014 but the obligation to provide nutrition information will apply from 13 December 2016.