Onions

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  1. General Requirements
    • 1.1 Grade
    • 1.2 Similar Varietal Characteristics
  2. Size
    • 2.1 Requirements
    • 2.2 Measuring Size
  3. Maturity
  4. Colour
  5. Permanent Defects
    • 5.1 Doubles
    • 5.2 A Insect Injury
    • 5.2 B Internal Papery Scale
    • 5.3 Mechanical Injury
    • 5.4 Ovoid Specimens
    • 5.5 Root Growth Old
    • 5.6 Seed Stems
    • 5.7 Staining
    • 5.8 Sunburn
    • 5.9 Sunscald
    • 5.10 Thick Necks
    • 5.11 Top Growth Old
    • 5.12 Wet Neck
    • 5.13 Other Permanent Defects
  6. Condition Defects
    • 6.1 Bruising
    • 6.2 Cuts
    • 6.3 Decay
    • 6.4 Freezing Injury
    • 6.5 Peeling
    • 6.6 Root Growth New
    • 6.7 Smudge or Dark Powdery Discolouration
    • 6.8 Sprouts
    • 6.9 Translucent Scales
    • 6.10 Watery Scales
    • 6.11 Other Condition Defects
  7. Tolerances
    • 7.1 Shipping Point Tolerances
    • 7.2 Destination Tolerances
  8. Requirements for Movement of Onions
    • 8.1 Interprovincial Movement
    • 8.2 Export
    • 8.2.1 Requirements
    • 8.2.2 Export to US
    • 8.3 Importation

Appendix I - Summary of the US Onion Import Regulations

1. General Requirements

1.1 Grade

The grades for onions are Canada No. 1, Canada No. 1 Pickling and Canada No. 2.

Except for size and an additional tolerance for ovoid specimens, Canada No. 1 Pickling onions must meet the requirements for Canada No. 1 New Onions, i.e., necks may be only moderately dry and the onions yield only slightly to moderate pressure.

1.2 Similar Varietal Characteristics

The definition of similar varietal characteristics means that the onions within a package have the same colour, i.e. yellow, white or red, and are the same type, i.e. Set, Seed, Silverskin or Spanish.

2. Size

2.1 Requirements

The diameter of an onion is measured at right angles to the longitudinal axis (see Inspection Manual for certificate "Size" statements). The size requirements for onions are as follows:

Canada No. 1

  • 1 3/4 to 3 inches (44.5 to 76.3 mm) when a size range is not declared on the package or tag, or the package is not transparent, or;
  • onions may be packed to other size variations if the minimum diameter is 1 3/4 inches (44.5 mm) and the size range is stated on the package or tag;
  • onions packed in a transparent package or bulk display may be any size range and need not have the range declared, providing the minimum diameter is not less than 1 3/4 inches (44.5 mm);
  • onions may be marked with a "minimum diameter and up" providing the minimum is not less than 2 1/4 inches;

Example: 2 1/4 inches (57.3 mm) and up; 2 1/2 inches (63.5 mm) and up; etc.

NOTE: Size or size range when required to be marked is part of the grade name, so should be closely associated with it.

Canada No. 1 Small

  • 1 1/4 inches to 1 3/4 inches (31.8 to 44.5 mm) in diameter.

NOTE: Please refer to Section 7 for a special tolerance on set onions during the months of July and August.

Canada No. 1 Jumbo
A minimum diameter of 3 inches (76.3 mm).

Canada No. 1 Pickling

  • 1/2 to 1 inch (12.7 to 25.4 mm) in diameter, or;
  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches (12.7 to 38.1 mm) in diameter provided the range is marked on the bag or tag;

Example: Canada No. 1 Pickling 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches (12.7 to 38.1 mm).

Canada No. 2
A minimum diameter of 1 3/4 inches (44.5 mm).

2.2 Measuring Size

The measurement for minimum and maximum size shall be the largest diameter of the onions taken at right angles to a line from the neck to the roots. To determine off size specimens, inspectors shall use a metal ring sizer. Suspected specimens are placed on the ring. If the onion supports its own weight without falling through the ring, it will be scored for oversize when checking the upper size range, but it will not be scored for undersize when checking the lower size range. However, if the onion passes through the ring, even if it touches the sides, it will be scored for undersize when checking the lower size range, but it will not be scored for oversize when checking the upper size range.

3. Maturity

Canada No. 1
The requirements are that they be firm and well cured, this means:

  1. that the neck of the onion is completely dry, except that onions marketed prior to September 16 in each crop year may have the necks only moderately dry, which means that the neck may be pliable and have a damp feeling but moisture cannot be squeezed from the neck by applying pressure; and
  2. that the onion does not yield to moderate pressure, except that prior to September 16 in each crop year the onion may yield to moderate pressure, but may not be soft.

Canada No. 2
Firmness and curing are considered on the same basis as for new onions; i.e., are moderately dry and yield only slightly to moderate pressure.

4. Colour

Canada No. 1
Although there are no colour requirements in our standards, the certificate should show under the "Colour" heading the varietal colour and cleanliness found.

Example: Yellow, clean, and bright, few dull. If the lot fails account staining, describe under the colour heading what was found in general terms and show the actual percentage of below grade specimens under the "Grade Defects" heading.

Canada No. 2 
The only requirement is that the onions be not so badly stained or dirty that the appearance or saleability is seriously affected. On the certificate, the "Colour" heading should be completed the same as for Canada No. 1.

5. Permanent Defects

5.1 Doubles

Canada No. 1
A double is an onion in which the shape clearly indicates more than one centre of growth by being lopsided by having a weakened scale covering the two centres of growth which can be readily seen.

Canada No. 2
A double is scored if the outer skin is broken exposing more than 1 centre of growth.

5.2 A Insect Injury

Injury from the onion maggot is usually at the base of the onion, however, it or other insect injury may occur on other areas.

This defect will be scored when:

Canada No. 1

  • The insect larva is present, or
  • The worm holes penetrate beyond the tough root core of the onion, or
  • The worm holes penetrate more than one edible scale on the outer part of the onion.

Canada No. 2

  • insect larva is present;
  • when a single hole penetrates more than two edible scales;
  • when two holes penetrate more than three edible scales in the aggregate.

5.2 B Internal papery Scale

This defect is characterized by light brown papery scales between adjacent inner fleshy scales which extend from the neck into the bulb. This defect will be scored when:

Canada No. 1
the papery scales extend more than:

  • 12.7 mm (1/2 inch) on an onion of a diameter smaller than 51 mm (2 inches);
  • 19 mm (3/4 inch) on an onion of a diameter between 51 mm (2 inches) and 76 mm (3 inches);
  • 25.4 mm (1 inch) on an onion of a diameter larger than 76 mm (3 inch).

Canada No. 2
The papery scale seriously affects the edibility of the onion.

5.3 Mechanical Injury

Canada No. 1
Score when they extend through more than one edible scale.

Canada No. 2
Score when more than two outer scales are penetrated.

NOTE: When the onions are excessively trimmed at the top, they should be scored the same as mechanical injury. However, the inspector should specify it on the certificate.

Example: Mechanical damage mostly done by overtrimming.

5.4 Ovoid Specimens

Canada No. 1
Ovoid specimens are elongated onions and are scoreable when the length exceeds the diameter by more than 1-1/2 time.

Canada No. 2
This defect is not scoreable in this grade.

5.5 Root Growth Old

Canada No. 1
Old Root Growth will be scored when the roots are coarse, heavy and are longer than 1 inch (25.4 mm) and cannot be removed by ordinary handling.

Canada No. 2
Score when the growth is thick and heavy and seriously affects the appearance.

5.6 Seed Stems

This is the hard "corn stalk" like neck that extends down through the middle of the onion. It is caused by the onion bolting and shooting out this stalk which produces the blossom and the seed. Seed stems are considered as a defect in all grades.

5.7 Staining

When scoring for staining consider only adhering scales and not loose outer dried scales.

Score only when the staining is in sharp contrast with the background colour. In sharp contrast with the background colour means that the staining forms solid patches of discolouration (black, dark grey or rusty brown for example). It is necessary to aggregate these solid patches to determine the surface area affected.

Canada No. 1
A lot of onions fails, when more than 10% of the specimens have more than 25% of the surface stained in the aggregate. This means that up to 10% of the specimens by weight may be completely stained, while the remainder must not have more than 25% of the surface stained in the aggregate.

Canada No. 2
A lot of onions fails, when more than 10% of the specimens have more than 50% of the surface stained in the aggregate. This means that up to 10% of the specimens by weight may be completely stained, while the remainder must not have more than 50% of the surface stained in the aggregate.

5.8 Sunburn

Sunburn is a greenish discolouration caused by exposure to the sun's rays without actually killing the tissue as in "sunscald". Some varieties have a natural greenish cast to the flesh which may be restricted to one side. This is a natural condition and should not be confused with sunburn. Sunburn will be concentrated in one area and will be a darker green.

Canada No. 1
The lot will be considered damaged when 10% of the onions show sunburn that is darker than a light green and affects more than 15% of the surface of the onion.

Canada No. 2
Sunburn is not scoreable.

5.9 Sunscald

This defect generally occurs during harvesting when the bulbs are exposed to heat and bright sunlight. The tissues of the exposed area of the onion are killed and become soft and slippery. Under favourable conditions the scalded tissues will dry up leaving sunken leather-like pockets which are bleached almost white.

Canada No. 1

  • any affected tissues that are not dry should be scored under the decay tolerance;
  • any affected tissues that are dry and sunken and penetrate to a depth of more than one edible scale are scored.

Canada No. 2

  • any that are wet should be scored under the decay tolerance;
  • dry sunken areas should be scored when more than two outer scales have been penetrated.

5.10 Thick Necks

Thick necks are bottle shaped onions, and are scoreable when the shape of the onion resembles that of a bottle with little or no shoulder formation. This applies to both grades.

5.11 Top Growth Old

This term is applied to old, dried tops which were not removed during harvesting.

Canada No. 1
Score when more than 25% of the specimens have tops longer than 3 inches (76.3 mm).

Canada No. 2
Score when more than 50% of the specimens have old dry tops longer than 3 inches (76.3 mm).

5.12 Wet Neck

At times when pressure is exerted on the neck of the onion, juice can be squeezed out; this should not be confused with decay. Cutting should be done to confirm before specimens are scored as being decayed. This defect is scoreable in both grades.

5.13 Other Permanent Defects

Score any injury or defect or a combination thereof, other than an injury or defect referred to in section 5.1 to 5.12 that:

Canada No. 1
Materially affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality of the onions.

Canada No. 2
Seriously affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality of the onions.

6. Condition Defects

6.1 Bruising

Canada No. 1
Where flesh is not broken, score when more than two edible scales are definitely soft and the area affected exceeds 5% of the surface of the onion.

Canada No. 2

  • Where flesh is not broken, score when more than three outer edible scales are definitely soft and the area affected exceeds 10% of the surface of the onion.
  • If flesh is broken, score the same as "cuts" in both grades.

6.2 Cuts

Canada No. 1
Score when they extend through more than one edible scale.

Canada No. 2
Score when more than two outer scales are penetrated.

6.3 Decay

Any moist or slimy breakdown of the onion, such as neck rot but not including wet necks, skin rot which would include any wet sunscald, heart rot, butt rot or soft rot, or any slimy condition of the onion. This applies to both grades.

6.4 Freezing Injury

It is practically impossible for the inspector to differentiate between watersoaked scales as a result of onions being frozen and thawed, and those that are watersoaked from other causes. Unless the inspector has prior knowledge that the onions were frozen (i.e., examined them in the frozen state before thawing occurred) he will not report damage as "watersoaked areas resembling freezing injury", but will report "damage from watersoaked scales", etc. Onions that are in a frozen state should be completely thawed before trying to assess damage. In assessing the damage the onion should be sliced crosswise at the centre, using a very sharp knife, otherwise bruising of the tissue at the cut will occur; then cut from stem to root to get the full extent of the damage. This defect will be scored when:

Canada No. 1

  • the affected area has a wet, watersoaked or translucent appearance;
  • the freezing injury has dried out and affects an area equivalent to more than one complete outer scale in the aggregate.
  • the injury has left the onion less than firm.

Canada No. 2
This defect will be treated the same as Canada No. 1 except that damage will be scored when more than the equivalent of two outer edible scales in the aggregate are affected.

NOTE: Specimens that were frozen and dried out, must not be less than reasonably firm, i.e., yield only slightly to moderate pressure.

6.5 Peeling

Canada No. 1 
A lot of onions fails when more than 25% of the specimens have more than 15% of the flesh exposed. This means that up to 25% of the specimens by weight may have as much as 100% of the edible flesh exposed, while the remainder may not have more than 15% exposed.

Canada No. 2
A lot of onions fails when more than 25% of the specimens have more than 30% of the flesh exposed. This means that up to 25% of the specimens by weight may have as much as 100% of the edible flesh exposed, while the remainder may not have more than 30% exposed.

6.6 Root Growth New

Canada No. 1

  • at shipping point, any new root growth is scoreable;
  • at destination, score when the growth is more than 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) in length and is sufficiently heavy so as to materially affect appearance.

Canada No. 2

  • at shipping point, score when any new growth exceeds 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) in length.
  • at destination, score when growth is over 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) in length and heavy enough to be considered as seriously affecting the appearance.

6.7 Smudge or Dark Powdery Discolouration

This defect is characterized by black spots or powdery blotches generally on the outer scale, but at times appears between several outer scales. On the certificate this could be best described as "damage caused by a black powdery discolouration of outer scales".

Canada No. 1
Score the same as "staining".

Canada No. 2
Score when appearance is seriously affected.

6.8 Sprouts

Canada No. 1

  • at shipping point, any new growth that is visible on tearing the neck or can be felt in the neck is scoreable. Cut samples to verify.
  • at destination, sprouts are scoreable only if noted outside the neck, i.e. without tearing the neck open.

Canada  No. 2

  • at shipping point, score when the sprout is visible outside of the neck area.
  • at destination, score when visibly longer than 1/2 inch (12.7 mm).

6.9 Translucent Scales

This defect can be recognized if the fleshy scales have a watersoaked, translucent appearance (not discoloured). It is important that the inspector understands that the "entire scale" i.e. that the condition penetrates completely through the entire scale surrounding the onion. The inspector should cut the onion across its diameter, then from stem end to root end, so that the areas affected are completely visible. It is important to use a sharp knife to prevent cell bruising which can be mistaken for translucent scales. Onions should be scored as damaged when

Canada No. 1
More than the equivalent of two entire outer fleshy scales have a watersoaked, translucent condition.

Canada No. 2
ore than the equivalent of four entire fleshy scales have a watersoaked, translucent condition.

6.10 Watery Scales

This defect can be recognized if the fleshy scale has a yellow or brown watersoaked condition. Greyish watersoaked colour is not considered to cause damage. The inspector should be careful to ensure that there is a definite yellowish or brownish discolouration to the appearance of the scale. Onions should be scored as damaged when

Canada No. 1
the equivalent of one entire fleshy scale has an off-coloured watersoaked condition.

Canada No. 2
more than the equivalent of two entire fleshy scales have an off-coloured watersoaked condition.

6.11 Other Condition Defects

Score any injury or defect or a combination thereof, other than an injury or defect referred to in section 6.1 to 6.10 that:

Canada No. 1
Materially affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality of the onions.

Canada No. 2
Seriously affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality of the onions.

7. Tolerances

7.1 Shipping Point Tolerances

Separate tolerances and each must stand on its own

Below minimum size = 5% 
Above maximum size = 5%
Peeling damage (Canada No. 1 only) = 25%
Staining damage (Canada No. 1 only) = 10%
Ovoid specimens (Canada No. 1 Pickling only) = 10%

Combined  total  must not exceed 5%

Permanent and condition defects = 5%
Decay = 2%

For Canada No. 1 Small onions where they have been grown from sets, 15% of the onions by weight may exceed the prescribed or designated maximum size during the months of July and August.

7.2 Destination Tolerances

Separate tolerance and each must stand on its own

Below minimum size = 5%
Above maximum size = 5%
Peeling damage (Canada No. 1 only) = 25%
Staining damage (Canada No. 1 only) = 10%
Ovoid specimens (Canada No. 1 Pickling only) = 10%

Combined  total must not exceed  10%

Other Permanent defects = 5%
Decay = 4%

For Canada No. 1 Small onions where they have been grown from sets, 15% of the onions by weight may exceed the prescribed or designated maximum size during the months of July and August.

8. Requirements for Movement of Onions

8.1 Interprovincial Movement

Onions shall not be sent or conveyed from one province to another unless they are packed or marked properly and meet one of the following grades: Canada No. 1, Canada No. 1 Pickling and Canada No. 2.

For onions below the above requirements or moving in bulk shall not move interprovincially except if an authorization has been granted by the Minister or a delegate of the Minister.

8.2 Export

8.2.1 Requirements

Onions being exported outside of the country must meet the requirements of one of the following grades: Canada No. 1, Canada No. 1 Pickling and Canada No. 2.

These requirements are for properly packed onions going for the fresh market. Onions in bulk for repacking or for processing or not meeting the above requirements are subject to authorizations granted by the Director. In such instances, the foreign consignee is required to give us a written confirmation of the transaction. The confirmation could take the form of a telex or a letter on company letterhead.

8.2.2 Export to USA

Our agreement with the USDA gives us the authority to certify onions under their "marketing order" as meeting their US Import requirements. To meet this agreement, our staff must certify onions according to their size and maturity requirement and our staff must see the load going into the vehicle.

Only in the instance where a positive lot identification system is in place in a warehouse could a warehouse inspection be performed. The inspection must be made on a identifiable lot. In each case, the inspector must be sure the identity of such lots will not be lost before loading and subsequent shipment. The inspector must, however, endeavour to see the vehicle that the produce will ultimately be loaded into and record its identification number or at least obtain from the applicant the proper identification number of the vehicle. This information is to be recorded under the "Remarks" heading of the certificate and on the evidence of inspection, for example, "Shipper advises produce to be shipped via trailer license number."

NOTE: Under no circumstances are warehouse inspections to be performed on produce being shipped to the US where individual lots cannot be distinguished from another at time of inspection.

Regarding the size requirements, inspectors must consult the current US Marketing Orders on onions. They should certify onions to the highest size requirement of each country.

Please consult Appendix I in order to find out under which size and which maturity requirement you should certify onion loads going to the US. For more information on Marketing Orders, please contact your supervisor.

To conform with the agreement, the following information must appear on the certificate or on the evidence of inspection:

  • The date and place of inspection;
  • The name of the shipper or applicant;
  • The quantity of the onions covered by the certificate;
  • The principle identifying marks on the container;
  • The railroad car initials and number, the trailer license number, the name of the vessel, or other identification of the shipping vehicle;
  • The following statement must also be shown under the Certification heading:

"Meets requirements of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and Meets the US Import Requirements of 7 U.S.C. 608 e-1."

8.3 Importation

Onions being imported must meet the requirements of one of the following grades; Canada No. 1, Canada No. 1 Pickling and Canada No. 2.

Again, these requirements are those for properly packed onions going for the fresh market. Onions in bulk for repacking or for processing or not meeting the above requirements are subject to authorization granted by the Minister or a delegate of the Minister.

US onion imports certified Meets Canadian Import Requirements are required to meet a minimum diameter of 1 1/4 inches (31.8 mm) (section 36(1)(k)(v) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations) or as set by the current Onion Marketing Orders (sections 36(3) and (4) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations). The USA. does not have a US No. 1 Small category such as Canada has (section 50(2) Table II Schedule I).

Occasionally receivers in Canada request US onion shipments previously certified Meets Canadian Import Requirements be reinspected in Canada to equivalent Canada grade, which on US No. 1 onions at first glance would be Canada No. 1 with a minimum diameter of 1 3/4 inches (44.5 mm). Inspectors requested to make such inspections should be careful to note from the shipping documents what the produce was graded to at US shipping point, be mindful of current marketing orders and advise the applicant what the minimum Canadian import requirements are for onions, particularly the minimum size, 1 1/4 inches (31.8 mm) or as per marketing order.

Appendix I

Summary of the US Onion Import Regulations

Onions exported to the USA for processing, livestock feed, charity or relief purposes and shipped under the Commodity Exempted Form are exempted from these Regulations and do not require a compulsory inspection.

NOTE: Onions shipped below our Canadian size requirements, but meeting the US import regulations as prescribed below, must be accompanied by a Ministerial Exemption and must be marked accordingly.

Period

  • March 10 to June 4 of each season

Minimum Grade Requirements

  • 80% Canada No. 1 or not more than 20% defects failing the requirements of Canada No. 1 provided that not more than 10% of these defects is failing the Canada No. 2 requirements and including in the 10% not more than 2% decay

Minimum Size Requirements

  • White varieties: 1 inch (25.4 mm) minimum diameter
  • Other varieties: 1 3/4 inches (44.5 mm) minimum diameter

Minimum Maturity Requirements

  • No maturity requirement

Period

  • June 5 to March 9 of each season

Minimum Grade Requirements

  • Canada No. 2

Minimum Size Requirements

  • White varieties: 1 inch (25.4 mm) minimum diameter
  • All other varieties: 1 3/4 inches (44.5 mm) minimum diameter

Minimum Maturity Requirements

  • Moderately dry

NOTE: The Onion Import Regulations do not apply to braided red varieties of onions during the above period (June 5 to March 9) and these onions do not require a compulsory export inspection.

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