International Produce Training


It is common to find sweet cherries with flattened areas, most of the times around the shoulders.  There is usually no discoloration, and the underlying flesh is fine too, with no discoloration.  The cherries may be bruised from a tight pack, or the bruising may have resulted from rough handling.  It never mattered much as to what caused the bruised, flattened areas, as it was not a defect, and the USDA inspection instructions stated: “Fruit that show only slight flattening on one side due to pressure of the pack and show no internal discoloration should be ignored.”

New instructions have been issued, now making this a defect…..well sort of.  A new scoring guide for bruising, regardless of any discoloration, resulting from rough handling or an excessively tight pack is:

Damage: When the area aggregates more than 1/4 inch in diameter.

Serious Damage: When the area aggregates more than 3/8 inch in diameter.

But here’s the kicker, fruit with only a slight flattening on one side due to pressure of packing should be ignored.  I hope the USDA will be forthcoming with some good visual aids depicting bruising from an excessively tight pack which is a defect and bruising from the pressure of packing, which is to be ignored. 

The bottom line, unless some visual aids are developed the inspectors will be scoring all bruising on cherries (whether there is discoloration or not) as a defect, if the aggregate area is more than 1/4 inch.  No one is going to attempt to distinguish if the bruising was from an excessively tight pack (whatever that means for a lug of cherries??)  or if the bruising was from the pressure of a normal pack.

I’d be curious to see how many lots of cherries will now fail to grade, based on these new instructions.  My guess, a lot more.

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