Picture: VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images
Picture: VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images

If you happen to be on Twitter, you may have seen a certain story about cabbages and the EU.

It claims that EU regulations on the sale of cabbage total 26,911 words.

'Cut the red tape!'

'As good a reason for Brexit as any!'

The 26,911 figure, however, is completely made up.

As the BBC reports there are EU regulations governing farm produce, of which marketing consists of 263 words. There are broader regulations about growing any type of produce, which are roughly 32,000 words - but these do not single out cabbage.

The origins of the claim can actually be traced back to the US in the 1940s, in which the government issued a memo to control the price of cabbage seeds.

In 1951, a relish company mentioned it in a letter to food brokers, and soon after a newspaper quiz described the regulation as 25,000 words long and pertaining to the sale of not just the seeds.

The length was later adjusted, like Chinese whispers to 26,911 to suggest research has taken place, later quoted as fact by an ignorant secretary of agriculture in the 1980s.

Claims have described 26,911 words as relating to numerous EU regulations over the years, such as on cauliflower, caramel and duck eggs.

For some reason, it's always 26,911 words. Maybe it's a satirists' in-joke? Who knows.

Either way, as the BBC note, the myth has been perpetuated through social media and traditional outlets alike.

So now you know that 26,911 words should always ring an alarm bell.

Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)