Why stickers on fruit should be banned

Why stickers on fruit should be banned

May 2017

By Will Dunn

Why does a nectarine need a registration number, asks writer Will Dunn. It’s a flippin’ soft fruit, not a car. A small issue, granted, but nevertheless it’s high time these pointless, gluey fruit stickers were banished for good.

Self-service checkouts are annoying but they do work sometimes. The scratchy labels in underwear are annoying but at least they help you put your pants on the right way round. Stickers on fruit are just plain annoying. The information printed on these stickers is supposed to be important for greengrocers, although I would challenge any of them to tell me, without looking it up, what those numbers actually mean.

LEmon-label

Fruit stickers are certainly of no use to shoppers. The only information they convey to the fruit-buying public is a statement of brand identity, which 
is meaningless when applied to an unprocessed product. What do you care if your banana is a Fyffes or a Chiquita? It’s a banana, for crying out loud. It grew on a tree. It tastes like a banana. It’s almost certainly a dwarf cavendish, if you want to get technical (but this information isn’t printed on your fruit sticker, so you can’t).

There is so much to loathe about fruit stickers. Firstly you have to pick them off, then you’re left with the little sticky patch of glue, which you either eat – mmm, glue – or try to rub off on your jumper, which turns the little patch of glue into a tiny toupee on the skin of your fruit, which you then have to eat.

Perhaps most irritating of all, there’s the rigmarole of trying to flick a fruit sticker into the bin, only to find it’s become stuck to the end of your finger, then picking it off only to find it’s now become attached to the other hand, and so on. As gardeners will tell you, these stickers turn up in the compost months after you’ve thrown them away, and have to be disposed of all over again – and, because they’re made of plastic, they will continue to hang around for centuries to come.

It gets worse – much worse. I know a friend of a friend who ate an apple without checking whether it had a sticker on it. The next day he found his stool incorrectly labelled as a granny smith. If this incident alone doesn’t forever turn you against fruit stickers, I don’t know what will.

Thankfully, Sweden – a country that has already, to its enormous credit, invented the hasselback potato and the six-hour working day – has a solution, and of course that solution is lasers (is there anything lasers can’t fix?). In this case, they’re used to imprint the necessary information on the skin of the fruit. No plastic label, no glue necessary.

Banana-label

These fruit lasers need to be adopted in the UK immediately, and not just because I like the idea of someone firing a laser at a conference pear. Fruit stickers are obviously putting people off buying fruit, and as a nation, we are not even getting our minimum-recommendation five-a-day of fresh fruit and veg. Seven portions a day reduces your risk of death from cancer by 25 per cent and of heart disease by 31 per cent. In fact, the latest recommendation is 10 a day.

Huge numbers of people would live longer, fuller lives if we started using lasers to etch little faces onto kumquats. The lasers could inscribe chopping instructions onto mangoes, and ‘just eat just like an apple’ on persimmons. Perhaps, one day, they could even shave a kiwi. This bold future is ours for the taking, but only if we ban fruit stickers immediately.

Do you think Will has a valid point or do you take a different view? Let us know in the comments below.

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September 2019