International Produce Training

Seedless Grapes- Developed Seeds

I have to admit, this is the first time I have heard of any issue involving developed seeds in grapes marketed as being seedless.  Recently a retailer discovered a lot of Cotton Candy Grapes that contained brown, developed seeds. Is this a defect?

If you are a logical thinker, you may take the position that if seedless watermelons found with brown, developed seeds may be scored as a defect if the number of developed seeds exceeds the allowed amount, then seedless grapes found with developed seeds may also be scored as a defect.

But if you read over the U.S. Grade Standards for Grapes and the USDA’s Inspection Instructions for Grapes you will find no mention of the requirement that seedless grapes must be seedless.  In contrast, although the U.S. Grade Standards for Watermelons makes no mention of seeds in seedless varieties, the USDA’s Inspection Instructions for Watermelons does provide a specific scoring guideline if seeds are found in seedless watermelons.

During our training classes we mention over and over that the rules for inspecting produce vary greatly from commodity to commodity.  You cannot assume a defect found on one commodity is scored as a defect on another commodity.  Each product stands on its own standard, its own requirements.

I contacted the USDA and was told there is no requirement that seedless grapes be seedless, therefore this is not scored as a defect.  I would guess if this becomes a larger problem then their stance may change.  But at the present time, do not score grapes as defects if you find they contain brown, developed seeds.

From an Industry standpoint they say the following:
Sometimes when I eat seedless grapes they’re not entirely seedless. Why is that?

“All grapes, even ‘seedless’ varieties, have seeds. Usually, these seeds don’t grow to be more than a seed trace. Leaving fruit on the vine longer increases the risk of a harder, more noticeable seed trace. But more importantly, allowing our grapes to ripen on the vine longer ensures that you get the best tasting, most unique flavor experience possible. We think it’s worth the risk. After you try our world renowned table grapes, we think you’ll agree.”

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