Understanding UK Average Weight Legislation
Keep it legal: complying with Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006
Any business that produces pre-packaged goods or materials can opt to establish an average weight system, involving use of suitable scale equipment, capable of accurately weighing and/or recording measurements in line with the latest requirements.
Ways of packing your products
There are fundamentally two ways of weighing your pre-packaged products (that is those that are sold/sealed and are between 5 g and 25 g, or 5 ml and 25 litres, the same weight or volume as other products of the same type).
- Minimum system: you may pack your products so that they contain at least the quantity displayed on the label. Each package can contain more than the label says, but not less.
- Average system: You can pack your products to an average measurement that is printed on the label.
‘The average system’ applies to most goods that are pre-packed in pre-determined quantities, by weight or volume. This includes a wide range of products, including most foodstuffs and non-foodstuffs, ie: rice, pasta, tea, coffee etc.
You must check each batch that you produce to make sure a random sample is packed to meet requirements.
These are known as the ‘three packer’ rules:
These confirm that:
The contents of the packages/batch must not be less, on average, than the weight printed on the label
Only a small number can fall below a certain margin of error. This is called the ‘tolerable negative error’ (TNE)
No package can be under-weight by more than twice the TNE
Remember that if you’re calculating the TNE as a percentage of the overall quantity, you must round up the weight or volume to the nearest 0.10 of a gram or millilitre as a general rule of thumb.
Click here: https://www.gov.UK/weights-measures-and-packaging-the-law/packaged-goods for full advice about current TNE limits.
What type of weighing scale equipment?
The equipment you use to weigh, measure or checkweigh your pre-packaged goods (to meet the requirements of the average system) has to be suitable for use/fit for purpose.
Whilst current legislation confirms that there are no specific rules about which equipment you should use to establish an average weight, its important that they are appropriate and capable of handling and accurately measuring the goods you are selling.
This equipment should have an advanced degree of sensitivity and accuracy, and be suitable for the environment or atmosphere in which it is kept and used.
Don’t forget that when weighing products for trade or sale, equipment must also be trade stamped or approved as ‘legal for trade’. If you are unsure of the actual status of scale equipment, ask for advice from your equipment supplier.
Scale equipment must comply with all current legislation regulating to a class or type of equipment, so look out for the extent of approval on the product packaging.
What do you mean by a package?
The most important aspect of taking average weight is to understand what constitutes a product or products. Measurements need to include all wrapping, (this is part of the package) and are subject to ‘the average system’ if they are made to a pre-determined weight or volume, if the customer is not present.
It also relates to materials where the quantity cannot be altered without the wrapping being opened or changed.
Whichever system you decide to operate when it comes to pre-packaged goods, it’s important that you stay within the Law.
Understanding which equipment is capable of taking and recording average weight readings in the environment that you work, is hugely important – tap into the experience and knowledge of your equipment supplier. You may be surprised at their level of expertise.