Weights and Measures Regulations

My business sells products according to their weight. Is there any legislation that I need to be aware of?

Many businesses sell goods by weight and in some circumstances by another measure such as volume or length. Examples of businesses which sell products in this manner are greengrocers, butchers, pubs or bars and even shops which cater for the DIY market.

If your business sells products in this manner then you will be required to adhere to various rules and regulations which are present in order to help your customers understand how much they are in fact buying and to make sure that they receive the correct amount of a product that they have paid for.

If my business sells goods by weight or measure what must I be aware of?

If you business sells goods by weight or measure you must adhere to the following requirements:

  • You must sell your products in metric quantities
  • You must package the product to show the metric measure

Metric quantities

The following conditions must be adhered to when selling in metric quantities:

  • If you sell goods by weight then you must use kilograms and grams rather than pounds and ounces
  • If you sell goods by volume then you must use litres rather than pints or cubic metres rather than cubic feet
  • If you sell goods by length then you must use metres instead of feet and inches

Packaging of the product

You must ensure that the metric measure is shown on your packaging. You can also include the imperial measure however the more prominent measure on the packaging must be the metric measure.

Are there any exceptions to the metric measure rule?

There are two exceptions to the rule that goods must be sold in metric measures.  They are in relation to draft beer and milk which is able to be sold in pints when it is sold in returnable containers. For example a pint glass in a pub or a glass bottle of milk delivered by a milkman.

If beer and milk is sold in the shops in plastic containers (milk) and bottles or cans (beer) then the measure provided on the container will specify the metric amount.

Fixed Weight Packages

In relation to fixed weight packages the following rules must be adhered to:

  • The average contents of the packages should not be less than the nominal quantity
  • The proportion of packages that are short of the stated quantity by a defined amount which is called the tolerable negative error or TNE should be less that a specific level
  • No packages should be short more than double the tolerated negative error

Is there any legislation which applies directly to specific businesses?

If you run a business in one of the following sectors then there is specific legislation which will apply to your business:

  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes
  • Bakers
  • Butchers
  • Greengrocers

Pubs, restaurants and cafes

If you sell alcoholic drinks in your establishment then you must sell them in approved measures. The approved measures are as follows:

  • For draught beer, lager and cider you must sell them in pints or half pints
  • For measures of gin, rum, whisky and vodka you must serve them in multiples of 25 milliliters or 35 milliliters expect when you serve them as part of a cocktail
  • Glasses of wine must be sold in measures of 125 milliliters or 175 milliliters
  • For carafes of wine you must serve them in measures of 250 milliliters

When you serve drinks in a licensed establishment you must use officially stamped measures, metering equipment or glasses. Beer can therefore be sold in stamped glasses or by using metered pumps.

In relation to spirits they can be measured through stamped optics or using stamped measures.

All price lists must say what quantities the drinks are sold in.

Bakers

All bread which is sold as either packaged or unpackaged in quantities which weigh over 5 grams and less than 25 kilograms must be packaged according to the average system of quantity control. If we take the example of a 300 gram loaf of bread this means the following things:

  • The average loaf must weigh 300 grams
  • At most one in 30 loaves can weigh less than a certain weight
  • No loaf can weigh less than a lesser weight

Butchers

Meat sold by butchers must be sold according to its weight. Meat that is pre-packed will often be marked with the net weight which excludes the weight of the packaging.

What happens if I sell products that are not sold in packaging?

Items that are not pre-packed can be sold by either net weight or gross weight which includes the packing. There is limits, however, on how much the packaging can weigh.

Do I have to let the customer know the weight of the product before they buy it?

Butchers must let their customers know the weight of a product before they buy it. The best way of doing this is by weighing it in front of the customer. The scales which are used by the butcher must be approved for trade use and stamped with the CE or M symbol.

The price of products must be displayed.

Greengrocers

It is often the case for greengrocers to sell fruit and vegetables lose and by their weight. They will sold according to one of the following ways:

  • By their net weight which is the weight without wrapping or containers
  • By their gross weight which is the weight including the wrapping or containers (there is however limits to the weight of packaging which can be used)

Pre packaged fruit and vegetables must be sold by net weight or by the number if they are countable products.

The packaging must be clearly marked with the contents.

As is the case with butchers in relation to lose products you must let the customer know the price before they purchase. Again this is done by weighing them in front of the customer using scales that are approved for trade use.