International Produce Training

Grape Tomatoes- Sunken Areas

What would you do if you received a product, but all of the specimens looked odd, not like something you have ever seen before?

These grape tomatoes, greenhouse grown, are firm, uniform in size and color, but the shape looks odd, with the sunken or dimpled areas.  You would have two choices to make:

  • Would you accept them as being OK, as the sunken areas are affecting all of the specimens, so it must be characteristic of the variety?
  • Would you report the sunken areas as a defect, possibly as high as 100% defects, and accept or reject the product based upon on this finding?

The shipper states the sunken areas are characteristic of this type of grape tomato, a varietal characteristic……does that change your mind?

I checked with the USDA’s Inspection Service and was told by the USDA’s Standardization Section their inspectors would score these sunken or dimpled areas as a defect. Since the inspectors would not know if the defect is characteristic of the variety, they would describe the defect as being “Sunken Areas,” a condition defect, and score it as damage if the sunken areas materially affect the appearance, or as serious damage if the sunken areas seriously affect the appearance.

Based upon what I see in the image, every tomato would be scored as damage, with approximately 25% being scored as serious damage.

Now remember, that’s what the USDA would do.  You still have the option to ignore this as a defect if you had no problem with the shape of these grape tomatoes.

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