IPSO backs Express over banned bendy bananas but other EU claims ruled inaccurate

The Express website has been told to correct two of its claims about “ridiculous” EU laws Britain has been “forced to accept” – but the press regulator said it was fair to say bananas were banned from being too bendy.

On 31 January this year, dubbed Brexit Day as it was the day the UK left the EU after 47 years, the Express published a story headlined: “Ridiculous EU laws Britain has been forced to accept from Brussels – EIGHT of the worst.”

It repeated the infamous claim that the EU banned curved bananas with a regulation that the fruit should be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers”.

A reader complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that it was misleading to say bananas cannot be too bendy as only the highest quality “extra class” bananas are subject to this requirement.

But IPSO said this detail of the different classes of banana was explained in the article so it was not a breach of Clause 1 (accuracy) to use the subheadline “bananas cannot be too bendy”.

However, IPSO did tell the Express to correct two other claims in the article that it said breached accuracy guidelines.

The regulator said it was significantly misleading to say Britain had been “forced to accept” a law banning production of Stilton in the village of Stilton by the EU.

IPSO noted that England’s High Court ruled in 1996 that Stilton originated in another part of the country, while it was member states who applied to the EU for protected designation of origin for food products – meaning the UK itself had asked the EU to restrict production of Stilton.

“Where the article had reported on rules which the UK had to follow due to its membership within the EU, this was a significant inaccuracy requiring correction,” IPSO said.

And IPSO said the Express’ claim that an EU panel had found there was “no evidence to prove drinking water prevents dehydration” was also a significant inaccuracy.

The Express had argued it was not inaccurate to say the EU had ruled that “water does not hydrate you”.

It cited an EU panel’s conclusion that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance” did not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim, where dehydration was the “disease”.

The only inaccuracy the Express accepted in the article was that it had given the wrong year in which restrictions on banana shapes were introduced by the EU.

IPSO ordered the Express to publish a correction as a footnote to the online article. No correction is yet visible on the article and the inaccurate claims on Stilton and dehydration remain visible.

Read the IPSO ruling in full here.

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