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New Tomato Labeling Regulations to Benefit Consumers, Producers

Vine-ripened and greenhouse tomatoes are the focus.

The Tomato Magazine
December 2004

New labeling regulations for tomatoes sold in California will benefit both consumers and producers by clearly defining "vine-ripened" and "greenhouse grown."

"These changes are an excellent example of California agriculture as producers of a safe and secure supply of food, fiber and shelter that is marketed fairly for all Californians," said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. "It is important to note that the tomato industry itself approached us and asked for the changes. Both consumers and farmers will benefit from more accurate labeling."

The tomato industry sought the changes to ensure that consumers get what they pay for-vine-ripened and greenhouse tomatoes usually cost more-and to protect the investments of farmers who incur additional production costs to enter the specialized markets.
Producers who violate the new regulations risk having their products pulled from retail shelves.

The new regulations state that a tomato may be labeled as vineripened only if it begins to show color change from green to red while still on the vine. The previous regulations allowed the vine-ripened designation if the color change began by the time tomato was packaged. In addition, tomatoes labeled with the term "greenhouse grown" must be produced in a fixed steel structure using irrigation and climate control. Tomatoes grown under variable conditions that do not meet the "greenhouse grown" definition may now be labeled as "hothouse".

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