UK Average Weight Legislation is a complex issue. This guide is designed purely to provide an overview of the legislation only – if in doubt about what this means for you and your business, speak to one of our sales managers or contact your local Trading Standards office.
The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006 apply to packages, of a pre-determined weight or volume, which are made up without the customer being present.
The purpose of the Regulations is to outline acceptable variations in weight which may be encountered as part of the packing process. Ultimately, the legislation ensures that packages are not under-filled – protecting the consumer from underweight packages.
A product, including its wrapping, is defined as a ‘package’ if it is made to a pre-determined weight or volume when the customer is not present and when the quantity cannot be altered without the wrapping being opened or changed. Very small and large items of less than 5g or 5ml, or more than 25kg or 25l are excluded.
The regulations also apply to ‘outer containers’ containing two or more packages (at least one of which is a package to which these Regulations apply) are also covered if placed in the outer container without the purchaser being present, if they can’t be altered without the package being opened and if the container is intended to be sold as the outermost layer of packaging to a consumer.
Additionally, these Regulations also apply to bread which is sold either unwrapped or in open packets if it has been made up to a pre-determined constant quantity; and is intended for sale in pre-determined units of weight, which are not less than 300 grams per loaf and not more than 10 kilograms per loaf.
The ‘average quantity’ system controls the overall average quantity of a batch of packages and the proportion that fall below the stated nominal quantity through a set of defined packer’s rules.
A batch of packages must, at the time of packing, comply with three main ‘packer’s rules’:
Where the TNE is calculated as a percentage of the nominal quantity, the amount must be rounded up to the nearest one tenth of a gram or millilitre.
The TNE is the amount set out in the table below in relation to the nominal quantity on the package.
Packers and importers have a duty to carry out checks to ensure that all of the three packers’ rules are met. This includes:
The product contained in each package must be measured using appropriately accurate weighing equipment, or checks should be carried out on the product contained in the packages using a rigorous system of sampling and tests – for example by checking a statistical sample of the production and keeping records of the results.
The sampling of packages is two-fold: 1) a check covering the actual contents of each package in the sample, 2) a check on the average of the actual contents of the packages in the sample.
When packages are checked at the end of the packing line, there should be at least one sample every hour for slower lines producing less than 10,000 packs per hour, or at least one sample every 10,000 packs for fast lines producing more than 10,000 packs per hour.
For batches of fewer than 100 packages 100% of packages should be checked.
Equipment used should have a reasonable degree of sensitivity and accuracy and be suitable for the environment in which it is used. When weighing products for trade or sale, the equipment must also be trade stamped or approved for trade in order to comply with relevant regulations.
If packages are being checked by statistical sampling, it is important that the packer or importer of a product keeps evidence of the above checks, including relevant corrections and/or adjustments. These records must show compliance with the three packers’ rules and must be kept for 12 months from the time the packages leave your possession or the shelf life of the product, whichever is the earliest.
Marking needs to be easily legible and visible under normal conditions of presentation. Markings must include the following:
The ‘e’ mark is used on a label to indicate that the product has been packed according to the requirements of the European Communities average weight rules (Directive 75/106/EEC and Directive 76/211/EEC).
There is no legal requirement for packages to be labelled with the E-mark, although some retailers will stipulate that it should be used. Regulations prohibit its use on packages which do not meet certain criteria.
– have been packed in conformity with the three packers’ rules
– have a nominal quantity between 5 g or ml and 10 kg or L (inclusive)
Disclaimer: This document is intended to provide an overview of the complex Weights and Measures (packaged goods) regulations 2006, it is by no means an exhaustive explanation of the Regulations and should not be used as such. Those needing to fully understand the how the law impacts upon their business should refer to the full and original document, available at www.legislation.gov.uk, or speak to one of our sales managers for a more in-depth consultation.