Operational procedure: Fresh fruits or vegetables grade verification
On this page
- 1.0 Purpose
- 2.0 Authorities
- 3.0 Reference documents
- 4.0 Definitions
- 5.0 Acronyms
- 6.0 Operational Procedure
- 7.0 Appendices
- Appendix 1 – Sampling Tables – Grade verification purposes
- Appendix 2 – Fresh fruit and vegetable maturity descriptors
- Appendix 3 – General quantitative terms
- Appendix 4 – List of the common condition and permanent defects affecting fresh fruit and vegetables
- Appendix 5 – Tightness or fill of packages
- Appendix 6 – Commodity Specific Grade Verification Tool
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff on standard commodity inspection procedures related to grade verification of fresh fruits and vegetables. These inspections will verify that fresh fruits and vegetables meet requirements of the Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations and the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.
The guidance outlined below may be used when verifying compliance of fresh fruit and vegetables, to support export certification, to aid in the assessment of a Preventive Control (PC) related sub-element, or as a follow-up to a complaint.
This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents as referenced in Section 3.0
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act
- Food and Drugs Act (FDA)
- Food and Drug Regulations (FDR)
- Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA)
- Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
The inspection powers, control actions and enforcement actions authorized by the above legislation are identified and explained in the Operational guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines.
3.0 Reference documents
- Standard Inspection Process (SIP)
- Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 2 – Fresh Fruit or Vegetables
- Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 9 – Import Grade Requirements
- Grade Standard Requirements for Fresh Fruits or Vegetables Imported from the United States
- Test markets issued under the now-repealed Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations
- Operational guidance: Food sample collection
- Operational Guideline - Food regulatory response guidelines
- Operational procedure - Calibration Procedures for Common Equipment used by the CFIA Inspectorate
- Operational procedure – Food Net Quantity Verification
- Industry guidance: Preventive controls for food
- Industry guidance: Preventive controls for food - fresh fruits or vegetables
- Inspector Toolkit (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11289973)
- Detail Worksheet (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11284338)
- Agrifood MCAP user manual (accessible only on the Government of Canada network)
Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the:
- Safe Food for Canadians Regulations - Glossary of key terms
- My CFIA Glossary of Terms
- Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 2 – Fresh Fruit or Vegetables
(of fruits and vegetables): means the relative degree of soundness or preservation including deterioration and decomposition (état)
- Master Container
Container which includes produce that is packaged into smaller units (contenant maître)
Means the properties of a product that determine its relative degree of excellence (qualité)
- Score (To)
the action of identifying and recording a defect in a fruit and vegetable specimen (comptabiliser)
- Single Process
Means that the product has a similar origin, such as the same bin. It must also be the same product, the same type or variety, the same grade and be packed on the same grading/production line. (processus unique)
Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used in this document and are consolidated in the Food business line acronyms list.
6.0 Operational Procedure
This operational procedure provides inspection guidance specific to fresh fruits and vegetables (FFV) grade verification. FFV are inspected to ensure that regulatory requirements for grade are met as set in the following documents incorporated by reference (IbR) in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR):
The Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 2 – Fresh Fruit or Vegetables sets out the grades standard for fresh fruit in part 1 and for fresh vegetables in part 2.
Part 1 Grade Requirements for Fresh Fruit contains quality information for:
- Plums and prunes
- Field rhubard
Part 2 Grade Requirements for Fresh Vegetables contains quality information for:
- brussels sprouts
- sweet corn field and greenhouse cucumbers
- head lettuces
- field and greenhouse tomatoes
The Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume - Import Grade Requirements sets out the grade requirements for imported food and provides a table of grade names for various imported food such as FFV.
The Grade Standard Requirements for Fresh Fruits or Vegetables Imported from the United States concerns FFV imported from the United States, but does not apply to miniature vegetables, except miniature cucumbers.
Where more specific guidance is required than what is provided in the Standard Inspection Process (SIP), these will be indicated in this section.
Commodity inspection operational guidance (OG) refers the inspector to the SIP for basic guidance on the four (4) inspection steps. If the commodity inspection is being conducted to support a Preventive Control Inspection (PCI) currently underway, some or parts of the inspection steps will have already been completed.
6.1 Prepare for Inspection
Refer to SIP, section 3, step 1. In addition to the general guidance provided in SIP, the following applies.
In addition to the Inspector Toolkit found in section 3.5 of the SIP, the following equipment is needed to perform a grade verification:
- Metal ruler (12 inches, metric and imperial units)
- Calipers (small 4 to 6 inches)
- Crate opener
- Sizers (round rings metal kit)
- Aggregate area cards
- CFIA seals
- Light meter
- Pressure tester
6.2 Conduct the Inspection
Refer to SIP, section 4, step 2 and to SIP, section 4.4.3. In addition to the general guidance provided in the SIP, the following applies.
There are two situations where FFV grade verification may be performed, at the time of shipping or repackaging, commonly known as "at shipping point" and at a time, other than at the time of shipping or repackaging, also known as "at destination".
A grade verification at shipping point is done when the product inspection occurs at any place (i.e. license holder facility) where domestic or imported FFV are graded, packed or repacked, loaded or shipped, regardless of the intended destination of the product:
- for permission purposes, such as export certificate
- when a PCI, an Incident Response or a Commodity Inspection plan triggers the need for a grade verification of the product
A grade verification at destination is done:
- when the imported FFV are already graded and packed/repacked
- for permission purposes, such as Import permission (e.g. custom clearance of imported onions, potatoes and apples from the United States), Test Market Authorization (TMA) or Ministerial Exemption (ME) for some FFV cases
- upon request, when needed by a license holder to assess quality criteria of the imported and/or interprovincial traded products, for value, grade or other purposes. Refer to Destination Inspection Service (DIS)
- when PCI or Incident Response or Commodity Inspection plan triggers the need for a grade verification of the product
6.2.1 Locate and identify the lot
A lot is a quantity of FFV that for any reason is considered separately from any other quantity of product for an inspection. As an example, the SFCA license holder designates a lot of FFV drawn from a combination of size, container/package, brand name, unique identifier or packed on the date, or a specific number of pallets of fresh fruits or vegetables.
When a shipment is comprised of lots on which markings indicate it was packed by different associations or persons, or is comprised of multiple products, varieties, grades or packages, each is considered as a separate inspection sub-lot. For purposes of comparison with the applicable general tolerances, each must be considered as a separate lot.
In order to randomly select samples, each unit (container or package) in the lot must have an equal chance of being selected, thereby excluding bias. Select the samples as randomly as possible within the lot, given the constraints of working in a production facility or warehouse environment. A true random selection of pallets, cases and/or individual packages can be achieved by using a random sampling technique. A numbering system in combination with a random number generator is one of several methods that can be used to ensure randomness. Refer to the Appendix 7 – Random sampling procedure of the Operational guidance: Food sample collection.
6.2.2 Determine the sample size, sample unit and sub sample
Most fresh fruits and vegetables (FFV) are packaged by weight or count depending on the type of packaging and the type of product. To determine the sample size (n), the inspector first needs to identify the number of units in the lot (N). Refer to Appendix 1 for the sampling tables used to identify the sample unit, sub samples and to determine the minimum number of samples to collect. For a high volume of FFV, Block Sampling could be an appropriate method to consider.
When performing inspections in high volume warehouses, it is permissible to group together packages resulting from a single process and packed on the same grading or production line on the same day, and treat them as a single block of product for sampling purposes. For example, a single process, and thus, a single block, could include Canada No. 1 potatoes packed in 2.27 kg (5 lb) poly bags and 4.54 kg (10 lb) paper bags. Block sampling will allow fewer samples to be taken than would be the case if each shipment or load was sampled as a separate lot.
Sampling is conducted randomly and uniformly throughout the day's production. Each different package type must be sampled. The number of samples selected per package type must be in proportion to the quantity of the package type in the block. No fewer than 2 packages (Table A) are to be sampled for each package type.
There are several precautions to consider before block sampling can be used:
- The grouping of various package types is allowed only if defects or other problems appear to be evenly spread throughout the lots. As soon as a specific defect or other problem is identified as affecting a certain package type, this package type must be removed from the block inspection, sampled and inspected independently
- It is not appropriate to switch to a block inspection technique to assess a small lot that exceeds tolerances. Block inspections cannot be used to pass product that would fail if inspected alone
- Product considered as a block cannot exceed a single day's production. An example of an extraordinary but acceptable circumstance could be a block assessment that cannot be completed in one day due to mechanical failure on the packing line
- Sampling should always be based on the total number of packages in the block. When the block has been divided for shipping, sample selection must be done equally from each individual shipment of the block. For example, a block of 2500 packages being allocated into 5 equal shipments by truck, 20 samples would be taken (Table A), selecting 4 samples per truck
6.2.3 Grade assessment criteria
Criteria for grading FFV are found in the following documents incorporated by reference in the SFCR; Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 2 – Fresh Fruit or Vegetables, Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 9 - Import Grade Requirements and the Grade Standard Requirements for Fresh Fruits or Vegetables Imported from the United States.
The FFV general grading criteria are described below. For specific commodity information, refer to Appendix 6 - Commodity specific grade verification tool.
Refer to Appendix 3 for general quantitative terms, to be used when doing grade verification.
Size is to be shown:
- Under the "Declared Grade" heading when the size is part of the grade (e.g. Potatoes, Canada No. 1 Large) or
- Under the "Size" heading when a size range is marked on a package (e.g. Potatoes, size designation 50) or
Size may be expressed as:
- Diameter (e.g. potatoes, bulk apples)
- Length (e.g. cucumbers)
- Box count (e.g. tiered packs of apples and pears)
The term decay should be used for both fruit and vegetables in the sense of being a deterioration or decline involving decomposition of the tissue and induced by fungus or bacterial action.
Rubbing the discoloured (water soaked) tissue between the fingers provides a simple but fairly reliable test to identify decay. If the discoloured material disintegrates rather than rolls up into a small ball, it may be reported as decay.
For nested or matted decay, it may not be possible to separate or distinguish individual specimens or bunches. This makes difficult an accurate count of decayed specimens. In this case, the inspection must be based on an estimate of the amount of decay rounded to increments of 5%.
Colour is used to describe the actual colour of the product at the time of inspection. The commercial importance of colour varies widely with different products. In most fruits, apples among others, colour it is a matter of prime importance. Colour characteristic is also important in many of the green vegetables, while in root crops it is secondary to some other factors.
Colour should be described using terms that are accurate and meaningful. For this reason, in some cases of graded produce, colour requirements that relate to the Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 2 - Fresh Fruit or Vegetables should be used.
Terms qualifying the degrees of cleanliness are, in descending order: Clean, Fairly Clean and Reasonably Clean. Cleanliness should always be described using terms that are accurate and meaningful. For this reason, in the case of graded produce, cleanliness requirements that relate to the grade standards should be used. The Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 2 - Fresh Fruit or Vegetables should be referred to for a more detailed explanation of cleanliness for various commodities.
Botanically, in a seed-producing fruit or vegetable, it is considered mature when it has developed seeds that will germinate. At this stage, the product may have exceeded its prime for consumption purposes. For inspection purposes, "mature" means the product is either ready for consumption or it will develop to that point. See Appendix 2 for maturity descriptors in fresh fruit and vegetables.
I. Maturity of Fruit
Mature is defined in Part 1 Grade Requirements for Fresh Fruits, as a fruit that has reached the stage of development that ensures completion of the ripening process
The terms "maturity" and "ripeness" of tree fruits are often used interchangeably. However, such usage is incorrect. Broadly speaking, in the pre-harvest period, the fruit is maturing on the tree, whereas following harvest in the mature state it will progressively ripen through various stages. Unfortunately, there is no one objective test that will classify fruit as either immature or, if mature, into one or other of these various stages of ripeness. Experience based on knowledge of the product (or variety) and interrelated external and internal indicators as: stem attachment, skin ground colour (as opposed to blush), firmness, flesh colour, seed colour, attachment of the seed to the flesh, texture and flavor.
It should be noted that product and varietal differences should be taken into consideration when assessing maturity criteria.
II. Maturity of Vegetables
Part 2 Grade Requirements for Fresh Vegetables refers few times to "mature" or to a degree of "maturity", however both terms are not properly defined such as Part 1 Grade Requirements for Fresh Fruits. Maturity in vegetables means the vegetable has reached the desired stage of maturity at harvest to ensure suitable shipping quality (for example a mature green Florida tomato), storage quality (for example mature potatoes that are free from skinning), or consumption qualities (for example fresh lettuce). Maturity in vegetables varies and should comply with the maturity grade requirements in the grade standard for that vegetable.
F) Properly Packaged
A fresh fruit and vegetable product which is properly packaged means that it is packaged in such a manner that the product is not likely to result in damage during handling or transport, and that the container contains not less than the net quantity of fresh fruit or vegetables declared on the label.
Verification of the net quantity and the package condition are done as part of the grade verification activity. To verify the tightness and fill of packages refer to Appendix 5.
To check the declared weight on consumer prepackaged products, a preliminary inspection is performed by weighing a minimum of 4 samples or 10% of the samples. If short weights are found, it will trigger an official net quantity verification. Follow the Operational procedure: Food Net Quantity Verification before reporting a non-compliance.
II. Container Sizes
Verify that FFV are packaged as prescribed in the SFCR, PART 10 - Packaging. Standard containers sizes for carrots, potatoes, beets, onions, parsnips and rutabagas are prescribed in items 5 to 10 in Table 2 of Schedule 3 of SFCR. For these six specific fresh vegetables, prescribed containers sizes do not apply when being exported, please refer to Section 187 of the SFCR. Table 7 and Table 8 of Schedule 3 of SFCR set out some exceptions concerning volume capacity.
Most test market authorizations (TMA) that were issued under the now repealed Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Regulations (FFVR), were incorporated into the SFCR. Some rare TMAs have been reissued or others, that were issued less than 24 months before SFCR, are within the validity period and still continue to be valid for the period for which they were issued. For information on the status of previously issued TMAs for fresh fruits or vegetables, please consult the summary page Test markets issued under the now repealed Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations.
General tolerance for the grade are based on external and internal defects. Defects are also identified as Permanent or Condition by a (P) or a (C), respectively. Refer to Appendix 4 for a List of the common conditions and permanent defects affecting fresh fruit and vegetables
I. Internal defects
Many FFV are subject to internal defects. Internal defects cannot be detected without cutting the produce. For example, net necrosis in potatoes, internal brown discoloration in plums, tip burn in lettuce or pithiness in celery. Some of these defects may give an external indication of problems, but others do not.
In order to confirm that there are no internal defects present, perform a preliminary examination by randomly selecting and cutting a sub-sample consisting of 20% of the specimens from the first two or three sample units.
- If no internal defects are found in the sub-samples, cutting the remaining specimens is not required
- If internal defects are identified during the preliminary examination, the inspector must decide if the external appearance is a reliable indicator of the internal defect or if the defect is hidden. This will dictate which of the following two procedures is to be used to complete the examination for internal defects
Procedure for product without external indications
Where the external appearance gives no indication of the defect or is not reliable, the inspector should take random samples by selecting and cutting 20% (sub-sample) of the specimens from the remaining sample units. Defect specimens are scored against the cut sub-sample.
Never score the same specimen twice. It is acceptable to either cut a 20% sub-sample and score it as each package is inspected or the 20% sub-sample from each sample may be set aside and accumulated for inspection as a composite sample after the other samples are inspected.
For example, when inspecting a 50 lb. bag of potatoes, the inspector finds that net necrosis is present but the outward appearance of the specimens gives no indication of the defect. The inspector then takes 10 lbs. (20% of the package contents) from the bag completely at random and, after cutting every specimen, finds that 2 lbs. are showing net necrosis. The 2 lbs. of net necrosis would be scored against the 10 lb. sample (2/10 x 100 = 20%). The remaining 40 lbs. are used exclusively for scoring size, permanent and condition defects. It is acceptable to both cut the 10 lb. sample and score it as each package is inspected, or the 10 lbs. from each sample may be set aside and accumulated for inspection as a composite sample after the other samples are inspected.
Procedure for product with external indications
If the outward appearance of the specimen does give some indication of the defect, the suspect specimens should be selected from the total sample and then cut for examination. Specimens found to be defective must be scored against the total sample.
For example, if a preliminary examination of a 50 lb. bag of potatoes reveals that only the larger rough potatoes have hollow heart, this type of potato is picked out of the lot and cut for examination. If 10 lbs. are picked out and, after cutting every specimen, 5 lbs. are accountable for hollow hearts then the 5 lbs. are scored against the total 50 lb. sample. (5/50 x 100 = 10%).
II. Permanent defects
Permanent defects are unchangeable or non-progressive in nature. Examples of permanent defects are: off sized, misshapen, insect injury, improper trimming, mechanical injury.
III. Condition defects
Condition defects are changeable or progressive in nature. Examples of condition defects are decay, bruising, soft, sprouting. Condition is most often the prime concern of a licenced holder.
IV. Multiple defects
Specimens may only be scored once even if they are affected with multiple defects. When there are multiples defects affecting a specimen, only the defect that impacts the grade the most, either condition or permanent, will be scored. If decay is included as one of the multiples defects, the specimen must be scored for decay.
6.2.4 Determine compliance
To determine compliance of the lot, refer to the Commodity Specific Grade Verification tool for the grading of FFV found in Annexe 6 - Commodity Specific Grade Verification Tool and the tolerance section in the Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 2 - Fresh Fruit and Vegetables.
A lot in compliance means that none of the tolerances have been exceeded and therefore the product meets the grade and its requirements.
If a lot is non-compliant, refer to SIP, section 4.5, and to SIP, section 4.6. If the product does not meet the grade and its requirements, control or enforcement action may be required. Refer to the Operational guideline – Food regulatory response guidelines.
6.2.5 Capture notes related to commodity inspection in the Multi Commodity Activities Program (MCAP)
The grade verification of FFV is currently being recorded in MCAP. If needed, the inspection Detail Worksheet (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11284338) is a worksheet available for inspectors to record their grade verification observations when MCAP is not available.
For information on capturing notes related to FFV commodity inspection in MCAP, refer to Agrifood MCAP user manual (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).
6.3 Determine lot compliance
Refer to SIP, section 5, step 3.
Grade verification results are shared on the "Certificate of inspection for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables" currently generated by MCAP and must be given to the requester.
6.4 Conduct the follow-up inspection
Refer to SIP, section 6, step 4.
For general inquiries related to this Operational Guidance Document, please follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e-RAF) (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).
Appendix 1 – Sampling Tables – Grade verification purposes
Appendix 2 – Fresh fruit and vegetable maturity descriptors
Appendix 3 – General quantitative terms
Appendix 4 – List of the common permanent and condition defect affecting fresh fruit and vegetables
Appendix 5 – Tightness or fill of packages
Appendix 6 – Commodity Specific Grade Verification Tool
Appendix 1 – Sampling Tables – Grade verification purposes
Tables A and B are used to determine the sample size to be examined in a lot of prepackaged FFV and to determine the sub samples in the case of a master container. Tables C1 to C4 list different situations to help with sample unit identification and are used in conjunction with Tables A and B.
The minimum sample size to be collected in Tables A and B has been determined by a statistical method and is valid to a confidence level of 95%. This means that the results of inspections are a reliable indicator, to all parties involved, of the true value of the produce within the lot.
Table A - Minimum samples size
|Number of packages or
Lot Size (N)
|Minimum sample size (n)|
|1 - 50||2|
|51 - 100||3|
|101 - 200||4|
|201 - 350||6|
|351 - 500||8|
|501 - 750||10|
|751 - 1,200||12|
|1,201 - 2,000||15|
|2,001 - 3,500||20|
|3,501 - 5,000||25|
|5,001 - 10,000||32|
|10,001 - 20,000||40|
|20,001 - 40,000||50|
|40,001 and up||60|
When a lot consists of different sizes or brands of the same commodity, the samples must be proportionate to their percentage in the lot. Each size or brand may be inspected individually upon the applicant's request.
The above minimum sampling rates should be used by inspectors as a guide in deciding how many samples from a lot should be examined. Varying conditions may require that more than the minimum number of samples be taken. It is the inspector's responsibility to decide how many samples may be examined in excess of the minimum sampling rate to obtain an accurate assessment of the quality of the lot being examined.
Table B - Further sampling of a master container (sub-sampling purpose)
|Number of packages per master container||Minimum number of
Packages to be examined (subsample)
|1 to 4||1|
|5 to 12||2|
|13 to 19||3|
|20 to 36||5|
|37 to 50||10|
Table C1 - Sample unit for packaged products "based on weight"
|Package Weight||Sample Unit|
|< 9.07 kg (20 lbs)||Each container|
|9.07 kg (20 lbs) or more||9.07 kg (20 lbs) sample or the entire contents (at the inspector's discretion)|
Table C2 - Sample unit for packaged products "based on count"
|Package Type "on Count"||Sample Unit|
|Cell or tray pack||1 layer (alternating layers)|
|Bulk bin||100 specimens (sample as randomly as possible)|
|Packages up to 6.35 kg (14 lb) capacity||The entire content|
|Packages of 6.81 kg (15 lb) up to, and including 11.34 kg (25 lb) capacity||25 specimens or entire contents (whichever measure comes first)|
|Packages larger than 11.34 kg (25 lb) capacity up to, and including, 22.7 kg (50 lb) capacity||50 specimens or entire contents (whichever measure comes first)|
Table C3 - Sample unit for specific FFV and packaging exceptions
|Packaging Exceptions||Sample Unit|
|Volume packaged plums, apricots, peaches, pears and tomatoes (1, 2, 4, 6 litre)||25 specimens or entire contents (whichever measure comes first)|
|All other container sizes of tomatoes||50 specimens or entire contents (whichever measure comes first)|
|Sweet cherries||100 cherries|
Table C4 - Sample bulk
Bulk totes, bins and loads
Sampling of bulk totes can be determined by weight or by count.
Assuming that produce is packed in 22.7 kg (50 lb) bags, the total weight of the lot may be divided by 22.7 kg (50 lb) to determine the number of packages in the lot. Based on the total number of packages, determine the minimum number of samples required for inspection.
|Sampling based on weight||
9.07 kg (20 lb) or more from a 22.7 kg (50 lb) bag
|Sampling based on count||
50 specimens or more from a 22.7 kg (50 lb) bag
For a high volume of FFV, Block Sampling could be an appropriate method.
Appendix 2 – Fresh fruit and vegetable maturity descriptors
A) Maturity of fruits
A mature fruit has reached the stage of development that ensures completion of the ripening process. The following categories, including their abbreviations, indicate the stages through which fruit passes in the ripening process:
- Immature (I)
means that the flesh of the product is not fully developed. Fruit removed from the tree at this stage will not ripen properly; the term indicates that the product was picked before it was (horticulturally) mature.
- Hard (H)
means that the flesh of the product is tenacious (or still tough) and of a starchy flavor, but with indications that the ripening process is proceeding. The fruit is suitable for long term storage or long distance shipment according to product and variety.
- Firm (F)
means that the flesh of the product is somewhat tenacious or becoming crisp but with no starchy flavor. The fruit is suitable for medium term storage or shipment according to product and variety.
- Firm Ripe (FR)
means that the flesh of the product is crisp and quite firm but has not quite reached its stage of optimum eating quality; means a stage of maturity between firm and ripe. The fruit is suitable for short term storage or short distance shipment according to product and variety.
- Ripe (R)
means that the flesh of the product is fairly crisp or slightly mealy but fairly firm and in prime condition for immediate consumption.
- Soft (S)
means that the flesh of the product is soft or in the last stage before decay sets in; usually accompanied by decay or breakdown; product is no longer sound and should be scored as a condition defect and reported as a percentage.
The term "overripe" should not be used as it often creates the impression that the produce is unfit for food. The term "soft" should be used to describe the most advanced stage of maturity.
The general terms used to describe the various maturities found in a lot of produce should be noted in descending order, for example mostly ripe, many firm ripe, few firm.
B) Maturity of vegetables
The following terms are suggested for the maturity of vegetables, some of which may be used to describe both condition and quality:
means compact, solid, substantial, unyielding to touch; indicative of normal development and good condition; very important in root crops and cucumbers. (Ferme)
- Fairly Firm
is approved for use with Brussels sprouts, cabbage and lettuce. (Passablement ferme)
- Reasonably Firm
is approved for use with potatoes. (Raisonnablement ferme)
means normal succulence, brightness, firmness, shown by product when harvested; important in fresh vegetables where any impairment of original qualities means a reduction in value. (Frais)
means turgid, brittle, breaking readily; denoting a fresh condition; desirable in celery, beans, rhubarb, spinach. (Croustillant)
means well filled, plump, close-grained, desirable in string beans and other pod crops as opposed to those with thin shell-like pods. (Farineux)
means succulent, of delicate texture; representing a desirable condition of asparagus, spinach, beans. (Tendre)
means leathery, pliable but not easily broken, the opposite of tender; representing a condition of over maturity and denoting lack of succulence. (Coriace)
means overgrown; of hard, stringy texture, particularly applicable to asparagus, beans and spinach. (Rugueux)
means easily compressed; of loose open texture, usually the result of very rapid or irregular growth: immature or sprouted onions. (Spongieux)
means coarse, open texture with air spaces in pith or central portion, usually the result of very rapid growth or freezing to celery, radishes, turnips, carrots. (Moelleux)
means soft, limp, pliable; lacking in firmness, often due to loss of stored water and food on account of sprouting or old age as with sprouted potatoes, aged carrots, parsnips. (Flasque)
means drooping, weak, lacking turgidity; usually on account of rapid transpiration; particularly applicable to leafy vegetables and those containing a very high percentage of water such as celery, spinach, rhubarb, lettuce. (Flétri)
means dried out, withered up; a loss of moisture usually accompanied by a change of form; a more serious condition than wilted; often due to severe drought or the action of hot winds. (Desséché)
means shrunken, drawn or wrinkled, a marked change in form and often in size; extreme condition resulting from excessive transpiration or old age. (Ratatiné)
Choose the terms that accurately describe the product examined using terms that relate to the grade standards where applicable. Example: asparagus, celery and cucumbers are required to be "fresh".
Appendix 3 – General quantitative terms
The following general terms have been developed for use by inspectors in describing certain variable factors within a lot of produce:
|Term||Proportion of the lot affected|
|Occasional||1% to 5%|
|Few||6% to 10%|
|Some||11% to 25%|
|Many||26% to 45%|
|Approximately Half||46% to 55%|
|Most, Mostly||56% to 89%|
|Generally||90% to 94%|
|Nearly All||95% or more|
- General quantitative terms used as "complements"
A complement is defined as one of two mutually completing parts. The terms "occasional", "few", "some", "many", "approximately half", and "most" may use complementary terms of some kind to quantify the entire lot or 100% of the sample. Likewise, the use of some other terms such as "generally" and "nearly all" may require complements.
These complements could be:
(a) Another quantity term, for example "In most packages fairly clean, in many slightly dirty."
(b) A percentage, for example "Decay accompanied by surface mould average 15%, range 5 to 25%. Most specimens show surface mould."
(c) Different brands or markings, preferably with number of packages shown, for example "In J. Doe brand, (actual count 35 packages) surface mould present. Most packages no surface mould present."
(d) A definite portion of a load or lot, preferably with the number of packages given if it is a package lot. The type of complement used is determined by conditions, for example "Two pallets show soiled cartons, most cartons in good order."
The terms apply to both packages and individual specimens. Their use with reference to individual specimens, however, should be limited to such factors as colour, cleanliness, firmness, and maturity or to describing the extent of damage. Decay or specific blemishes and defects, and the part of a lot which shows a commercially undesirable state of maturity must always be stated in percentages with only the degree of damage reported in general terms.
- Use of "Generally" and "Nearly All"
The words "generally" and "nearly all" may be used without complement. For example, the pack is "generally tight" means that any exceptions are not worthy of mention.
The same rule applies to all descriptive terms such as colour, smoothness, cleanness. This use of "generally" does not include defects that are to be scored as percentages in the Canadian Grade Compendium – Volume 2, Fresh Fruit or Vegetables, such as staining of onions.
"Generally" should not be used to qualify a statement reporting freedom from decay. If decay is present, it should be reported in percentage figures. If no decay is found, the statement "No decay in evidence" should be made.
- Use of "Remainder"
"Remainder" may only be used to complement "approximately half", as it would be too indefinite when used to complement other general terms.
- Larger Proportion First
The term representing the largest amount should be stated first, the lesser amounts should follow in descending order. This presents the results with the more logical and consistent effect.
Appendix 4 – List of the common condition and permanent defects affecting fresh fruit and vegetables
|Commodity||Condition defects (C)||Permanent defects (P)|
|Apples – Crab apples||Decay
Freezing injury (sound)
Breakdown Table Note 1 (sound)
Bitter pit (sound)
Pin point scab
Skin punctures Table Note 2
Insect injury (such as Pansy spot, leaf roller)
Insect injury (such as grasshopper, mites
Trimming (stringy or frayed ends)
Firmness (soft, flabby, shrivelling)
Secondary top growth
Cleanliness - dirt
|Berries (Blueberries, Cranberries, Strawberries, etc.)||Bruising
Colour (including underdeveloped berries)
Foreign material such as leaves, stems.
Insects (including larvae)
Opening of florets
|Brussels sprouts||Freshness (withered leaves and yellowing)
Insects (including injury)
Colour (other than yellowing)
Black leaf speck
Soft heads (according to type)
Seed stalk formation
Surface moulds Table Note 3
Cracks (except those at stem
scar indicating maturity)
Sunburn Table Note 4
Secondary top growth
Broken (if pieces present)
Sunburn Table Note 4
Broken (if pieces not present)
|Cauliflower||Colour of curds
Overmature (loose, open, turning yellow)
Yellow jacket (wrapper leaves)
Seed stem formation Table Note 5
Skin or flesh discolouration
Foreign material (leaves, twigs)
Splits - cracks
Immature (undeveloped ends)
Colour (except yellowing)
Ground colour (as opposed to yellow of advancing maturity)
Mould - mildew
Compactness of bunches, Filling
Freezing injury (including blistering)
(Split) burst heads
Seed stem formation
Soft heads (according to type)
Firmness, lack of (Soft)
Not properly cured (Wet neck)
Internal papery scales
Insect (presence of)
Smudge, smut (Black powdery discolouration)
Watery scales / Water-soaked scales
Thick necks, bottlenecks (US)
Doubles (More than 1 centre of growth)
SunburnTable Note 4
Dry Sunken Areas (Sunscald, dry)
Insect (presence of)
Not properly cured (Wet neck)
Secondary top growth
|Peaches||Skin breaks - cuts
Breakdown Table Note 1
Skin punctures Table Note 6
Speckled pit residue
|Plums - Prunes||Decay (Phoma Rot)
Air Cracks (EXT)
Decay (Soft rot) (EXT, INT)
Discolouration (EXT, INT)
Dry rot (EXT, INT)
Bird damage (EXT)
Elephant hide (EXT)
Dirt - foreign matter
|Rutabagas (Turnips)||Decay (soft and dry)
Sunken discoloured areas
Soft watery breakdown
Growth cracks (radial or concentric)
Skin checks Table Note 7
Puffiness Table Note 8
Blossom end rot
Legend - Bolded terms indicate that they are located in the Volume 2 of the Compendium
Appendix 5 – Tightness or fill of packages
Tightness or fill of packages may be described by using the following terms:
- Very Tight
means the extreme of the condition described under tight, that is, too tight for best results which may or may not result in damage; too much bulge for the good of the product; signifies non-compliance with properly packed. (Très serré)
- Tight or Well Filled
means sufficiently filled to prevent movement of the product within; furnishes the proper amount of bulge for the pack and product; signifies compliance with properly packed. (Serré ou Bien Rempli)
- Fairly Tight or Fairly Well Filled
means the pack is not ideal, but is between tight - well filled and slightly slack; tight enough to prevent specimens from moving within the package sufficiently to cause injury under normal handling conditions; there may be the proper amount of bulge but slight looseness in layers; also signifies compliance with properly packed. (Passablement serré ou Passablement bien rempli)
- Slightly Slack
means the package is not sufficiently full or tight to prevent movement of the product within the package and thus may or may not result in injury; signifies non-compliance with properly packed. (Un peu lâche)
means the package is clearly not full and a free movement of the product is possible or evident; damage to the product is possible depending on mode of transport and handling; signifies non-compliance with properly packed. When slackness is due to decay, this should be stated. (Lâche)
In cases where produce is in bulk, jumble packed or loose in packages (bulk bins, orchard boxes, cartons of tomatoes), it would be appropriate to describe the fill, for example "well filled" – meaning just level with the top so as to avoid damage, "3/4 full", as the case may be.
When packages have been wired or strapped in some fashion, this should be described to indicate a single unit or a group of packages. The description should also indicate the method and type of strapping, for example: "Each carton double plastic strapped".
If packages are strapped onto pallets with or without bracing this should be reported, for example: "Cartons palletized in units of 36, corner braced and double strapped vertically and horizontally".
Appendix 6 – Commodity specific grade verification tools
The grade verification tools below contain detailed description of the grades and requirements found in the Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 2 – Fresh Fruit or Vegetables and are under development. They will be posted as they are completed.
Fresh Fruits - Grade verification tools
- Apples - Grade verification tool
- Apricots - Grade verification tool
- Blueberries - Grade verification tool
- Cantaloups - Grade verification tool
- Cherries - Grade verification tool
- Crabapples - Grade verification tool
- Cranberries - Grade verification tool
- Grapes - Grade verification tool
- Peaches - Grade verification tool
- Pears - Grade verification tool
- Plums and Prunes - Grade verification tool
- Field Rhubarb - Grade verification tool
- Strawberries - Grade verification tool
Fresh Vegetables - Grade verification tools
- Asparagus - Grade verification tool
- Beets - Grade verification tool
- Brussels Sprouts - Grade verification tool
- Cabbages - Grade verification tool
- Carrots - Grade verification tool
- Cauliflower - Grade verification tool
- Celery - Grade verification tool
- Sweet Corn - Grade verification tool
- Field Cucumbers - Grade verification tool
- Greenhouse Cucumbers - Grade verification tool
- Head Lettuce - Grade verification tool
- Onions - Grade verification tool
- Parsnips - Grade verification tool
- Potatoes - Grade verification tool
- Rutabagas - Grade verification tool
- Field Tomatoes - Grade verification tool
- Greenhouse Tomatoes - Grade verification tool
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