Guidance for food businesses on the Weights and Measures (Food) (Amendment) Regulations 2014.
Certain information must be shown on the packaging or label of pre-packed food that’s sold or given away to consumers or mass caterers by food businesses. Pre-packed food is any food that’s put into packaging before being put on sale and cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging.
The rules are enforced by the Food Information Regulations 2014, apart from the requirements for indicating the weight or volume of the food – known as its net quantity – which are enforced under the Weights and Measures (Food) (Amendment) Regulations 2014.
The following guidance is specific to the display of net quantity. To view general guidance on food labelling, please use the links below:
- Food labelling: giving information to consumers
- Food standards: labelling and composition
- Labelling of pre-packed food: general – Business Companion
Net quantity labelling requirements
Pre-packed foods must display:
- the net quantity in grams, kilograms, millilitres, centilitres or litres
- the net weight exclusive of the ice glaze for glazed frozen foods
- the drained net weight and net weight for foods packed in a liquid medium
Solid food must be labelled with net mass (g or kg), and liquid food must be labelled with net volume (ml, cl or l), with certain exceptions such as honey.
A supplementary net quantity may be provided in an imperial measure but must not have greater prominence than the metric net quantity.
The quantity information must:
- be accurate, clear and easy to understand
- be labelled in the same field of vision as the name of the food and its alcoholic strength where appropriate
- not be misleading
Pre-packed foods are exempt from these requirements if they are:
- under 5 g or 5 ml, apart from herbs and spices, where there is no minimum threshold
- usually sold by number, provided that the number of items can be clearly seen and easily counted from the outside
- subject to considerable losses in their volume or mass and are sold by number or weighed in the presence of the purchaser
Multipacks are packages containing two or more of the same pre-packed products, such as bags of crisps. They must display the total number of items and the net quantity of each, for example 6 x 50 g. This does not need to be shown on the outer packaging if the number of items and at least one quantity declaration are clearly visible from outside.
Packages with multiple items
Packages containing two or more different items that are not regarded as units of sale by themselves must display the total number of items and the total net quantity, for example 4 = 200 g.
Applying the ‘e’ mark
The use of the ‘e’ mark is voluntary. When placed on a package, it is a declaration that its contents comply with the average system of quantity control established by the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006. All pre-packed food that falls within the scope of these regulations must comply with the Three Packers Rules. If it displays the ‘e’ mark, it must also meet more detailed quantity labelling requirements.
- Read the Three Packers Rules for packers and importers
- Read guidance on the Weights and Measures (Packaged) Goods Regulations 2006
National food legislation
To prevent overlap in the legal framework, the Weights and Measures (Food) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 removed pre-packed foods subject to net quantity labelling from the scope of three items of national food legislation:
- Weights and Measures Act 1963 (Cheese, Fish, Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, Meat and Poultry) Order 1984 (as amended)
- Weights and Measures (Miscellaneous Foods) Order 1988 (as amended)
- Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988 (as amended)
Their application is now limited to food sold loose or directly or in open containers, and relevant wholesale transactions.