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(World-wide Standard)


This standard applies to commercially prepared whole dates in pitted or un-pitted styles packed ready for direct consumption. It does not apply to other forms such as pieces or mashed dates or dates intended for industrial purposes.


2.1 Product Definition

Dates are the product prepared from sound fruit of the date tree (Phoenix dactylifera L.), which fruit:

(a) is harvested at the appropriate stage of maturity;
(b) is sorted and cleaned to remove defective fruit and extraneous material;
(c) may be pitted and capped;
(d) may be dried or hydrated to adjust moisture content;
(e) may be washed and/or pasteurized; and
(f) is packaged in suitable containers to assure preservation and protection of the product.

2.2 Varietal Types

Varietal types are classified as:

(a) Cane sugar varieties (containing mainly sucrose) such as Daglat Nuur (Deglet Noor) and Daglat Beidha (Deglet Beidha).
(b) Invert sugar varieties (containing mainly invert sugar - glucose, and fructose) such as Barhi (Barhee), Saiidi (Saidy), Khadraawi (Khadrawy), Hallaawi (Halawy), Zahdi (Zahidi), and Sayir (Sayer)

2.3 Styles

Styles may be classified as:

(a) unpitted; and
(b) pitted.

2.4 Sub-styles

Sub-styles are as follows:

(a) Pressed - dates which are compressed into layers using mechanical force.
(b) Unpressed or Loose - dates which are free-flowing or packaged without mechanical force or compression.
(c) Clusters - dates with the main bunch stem attached.

2.5 Size Classification (Optional)

Dates may be designated as to size names in accordance with the following charts:

(a) Unpitted dates (b) Pitted dates

Size No. of dates in 500g   Size No. of dates in 500g
Small                              more than 100

Medium                                 80 to 100

Large                                  less than 80

  Small                                  more than 110

Medium                                     90 to 110

Large                                      less than 90


3.1 Composition

3.1.1 Optional Ingredients

Glucose syrup, sugars, flour, vegetable oils.

3.2  Quality factors

3.2.1  General Requirements

Dates shall be prepared from such fruit and under such practices that the finished product shall possess a characteristic colour and flavour for the variety and type, be of proper stage of ripeness, be free of live insects and insect eggs and mites and meet the following additional requirements:

(a)  Moisture content  Maximum
Cane sugar varieties   26%
Daglat Nuur


30% (not processed in accordance with 2.1(d)(e)).
Invert sugar varieties 30%
(b) Size (minimum)
Unpitted Dates    - 4.75 grammes
Pitted Dates   


- 4.0 grammes
(c) Pits (Stones) - Not more than two pits or
(in Pitted Style)   


4 pieces of pit per 100 dates
(d) Mineral impurities   - Not more than 1 g/kg


3.2.2  Definition of Defects

(a) Blemishes - Scars, discoloration, sunburn, dark spots, blacknose or similar abnormalities in surface appearance affecting an aggregate area greater than that of a circle 7 mm in diameter.
(b) Damaged - (Unpitted dates only) - dates affected by mashing and/or tearing of the flesh exposing the pit or to such an extent that it significantly detracts from the visual appearance of the date.
(c) Unripe Dates  - Dates which may be light in weight, light in colour, have shrivelled or little flesh or a decidedly rubbery texture.
(d) Unpollinated Dates - Dates not pollinated as evidenced by thin flesh, immature characteristics and no pit in unpitted dates.
(e) Dirt - Dates having embedded organic or inorganic material similar to dirt or sand in character and affecting an aggregate area greater than that of a circle 3 mm in diameter.
(f) Insects and mites damage and contamination - Dates damaged by insects or mites or contaminated by the presence of dead insects or mites, fragments of  insects or mites or their excreta.
(g) Scouring - Breakdown of the sugars into alcohol and acetic acid by yeasts and bacteria.
(h) Mould - Presence of mould filaments visible to the naked eye.
(i) Decay - Dates that area in a state of decomposition and very objectionable in appearance.


3.2.3  Allowance for Defects

The maximum allowances for the defects defined in 3.2.2 shall be:

A total of 7% by count of dates with defect (a)
A total of 6% by count of dates with defects (b), (c) and (d)
A total of 6% by count of dates with defects (e) and (f)
A total of 1% by count of dates with defects (g), (h) and (i)

3.3  Lot Acceptance

A lot will be considered as meeting the quality criteria requirements of the standard when:

(a) there is no evidence of live infestation; and

(b) the sub-sample, as taken in conformity with sub-section 8.1.2 meets the general requirements of sub-section 3.2.1 and does not exceed the allowances for the respective defects in sub-sections 3.2.2 and 3.2.3, except that, with respect to size requirements, 5% by count (5 dates out of 100) may weigh less than the specified minimum.


  Maximum Level
4.1 Glycerol )  
                       )   In accordance with GMP (see also Section 3.1.1)
4.2 Sorbitol   )  


5.1 It is recommended that the product covered by the provisions of this standard be prepared in accordance with the International Code of Hygienic Practice for Dried Fruits recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Ref. No. CAC/RCP 3-1969).

5.2 When tested by appropriate methods of sampling and examination, the product:

(a) shall be free from microorganisms capable of development under normal conditions of storage; and

(b) shall not contain any substances originating from microorganisms in amounts which may represent a hazard to health.


Containers shall be as full as practicable without impairment of quality and shall be consistent with a proper declaration of contents for the product.


In addition to sections 1, 2, 4 and 6 of the General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods (Ref. CODEX STAN. 1-1981), the following specific provisions apply:

7.1 The Name of the Food

7.1.1 The name of the product shall be "Dates" or "Dates coated with Glucose Syrup".

7.1.2 The style shall be indiated as "pitted" or "unpitted", as is applicable.

7.1.3 The name of the product may include the name of the varietal type, such as "Hallawi", "Sayer", "Khadrawi", "Daglat Noor", "Barhee", or others, the sub-style as "pressed" or "unpressed", and the size designation as "small", "medium" or "large".

7.2 List of Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients shall be declared on the label in descending order of proportion in accordance with the provisions of sub-section 3.2(c) of the Codex General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods (Ref. CODEX STAN. 1-1981).

7.3 Net Contents

The net contents shall be declared by weight in either the metric ("Système international") units or avoidupois or both systems of measurement, as required by the country in which the product is sold.

7.4 Name and Address

The name and address of the manufacturer, packer, distributor, importer, exporter or vendor of the product shall be declared.

7.5 Country of Origin

7.5.1 The country of origin of the product shall be declared.

7.5.2 When the product undergoes processing in a second country which changes its nature, the country in which the processing is performed shall be considered to be the country of origin for the purposes of labelling.

7.6 Lot Identification

Each container shall be embossed or otherwise permanently marked in code or in clear to identify the producing factory and the lot.

7.7 Date Marking

7.7.1 The "date of minimum durability" (preceded by the words "best before") shall be declared by the day, month and year in uncoded numerical sequence except that for products with a shelf-life or more than three months but not more than 18 months, the month and year will suffice, and for those with a shelf-life of 18 months or more, the year will suffice. The month may be indicated by letter in those countries where such use will not confuse the consumer. In the case of products requiring a declaration of month and year or year only, and the shelf-life of the product is valid to the end of a given year, the expression "end (stated year)" may be used as an alternative.

7.7.2 In addition to the date of minimum durability, any special conditions for the storage of the food shall be indicated if the validity of the date depends thereon.

7.7.3 Where practicable, storage instructions shall be in close proximity to the date marking.


8.1 Method of Sampling

8.1.1 Gross Sample

Select at random not less than 2 individual packages per each 1,000 kg portion of the lot. From each individual package draw a sample of 300 g and in any case sufficient to obtain a gross sample of not less than 3,000 g. Use the gross sample for checking carefully for live infestation and general cleanliness of the product prior to its examination for compliance with other provisions of the standard.

8.1.2 Sub-samples for Examination and Testing

Mix the gross sample well and take small quantities at random from many different places as follows:

For moisture test - 500 grammes

For pits (in pitted style) - 100 dates

For specified defects and

size requirements - 100 dates

8.2 Methods of Analysis

8.2.1 Determination of Moisture Content Codex Defining Method (Type I method)

In accordance with the AOAC (1975) Method (Official Methods of Analysis of the AOAC, 1975, 12th Ed., 22.013, Moisture in Dried Fruits) (Vacuum Oven Method). Codex Alternative Approved Method (Type III method)

In accordance with the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Method, CAC/RM 50-1974 (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Methods of Analysis for Processed Fruits and Vegetables, Third Series, CAC/RM 50/53-1974, Moisture Determination - Electrical Conductance Method). However, in cases of dispute, the method in will be the defining method.


9.1 Internal Defects

Examine each date carefully for internal defects using a strong light. If the dates are pitted, open up the flesh so that the internal cavity can be viewed. If the dates are unpitted, slit the date open so as to expose the pit, remove the pit and examine the pit cavity.

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