Packers, importers and sellers, have a responsibility to ensure their company’s operations have systems in place to achieve compliance with the national trade measurement laws. They need to:
- show that the goods they sell are labelled correctly and the quantities contained in the packages meet the measurement requirements
- take responsibility for the accuracy and marking of packages which they import, produce or sell and make sure that staff, systems and equipment, comply with the trade measurement laws
- ensure that authority is delegated to competent staff and there is proper and ongoing training of staff and appropriate supervision of processes
Packers need to make sure that their staff are fully aware of the requirements of the national trade measurement laws and can demonstrate that internal quality control systems are in place.
Importers should insist that their suppliers are aware of the requirements of the national trade measurement laws and can demonstrate that they comply with the laws in terms of quality control systems. They should have a quality control system to monitor and verify compliance of imported goods before distribution and sale.
Sellers should insist that their suppliers – both packers and importers – are aware of the requirements of the national trade measurement laws and can demonstrate that they comply with the laws and have in place quality control systems. They should have in place their own quality control system to monitor and verify compliance of the goods they sell.
While the method of checking the measurement of packages and recording the results of process and compliance sampling is not prescribed by law, the more extensive the checks and records, the more packers/importers/sellers can prove that they did everything in their power to ensure the correct measurement of the packages. The extent of these checks depends on each set of circumstances.
Packers, importers and sellers should:
- demonstrate good operational practices in accordance with any appropriate recognised industry code which reflects trade measurement requirements
- ensure processes and procedures include a checking and auditing loop to demonstrate compliance with the trade measurement legislation
- make sure that researched and documented measurement records, with a history of past performance, are used to determine future fill settings
- determine the sampling frequency based on the understanding of processes and procedures and natural process variabilities; in a high-volume mass production operation, process sampling would generally be a separate action from compliance sampling whereas, for smaller operations it may be practicable to merge these two sampling activities into one function
- ensure work instructions and procedures include documentation such as training records, supervisory checks, measuring instrument checks and remedial actions and revised measurement targets
What to do with shortfall packages
Sometimes compliance sampling might indicate that packages have a shortfall, i.e. the measurement of the package is less than that stated on the label. Remedial actions must be taken if:
- a single package deficiency exceeds the permissible tolerance and/or
- the average (or the weighted average in the context of AQS) measurements of sample packages is less than the nominal measurement marking
In either case you will need to:
- identify the faulty packages
- remove them from your distribution channel, and place them in quarantine
- clearly mark the packages to prevent their inadvertent release
- report the details to senior management
- implement appropriate preventative measures
Note: Even if non-compliant packages are sold at a substantial discount (or even given away) you still have to ensure that the correct measurement is marked on the package and that you comply with the trade measurement laws.
Identify the causes and take remedial action
- Review processes and procedures including the efficiency and accuracy of process sampling.
- Identify and adjust any faulty equipment or process. If this is not possible, tag out equipment identified as faulty.
- Consider operator retraining or closer supervision if that seems appropriate.
- Re-labelling to a lesser marked measurement must be consistent with the trade measurement laws. However before re-labelling, consider whether this may cause marketing problems. Discuss this with your retailer. Buyers may expect a constant nominal quantity for particular-sized containers even though the laws may not require it.
- A person who re-labels a package with a revised measurement marking is responsible for the accuracy of that measurement marking. The action of re-labelling with a revised measurement marking may also require the person to identify themselves as the packer. Hence, they would have to include their name and address on the package.
Repacking and topping up
- Identify those individual packages which have failed due to excessive deficiency and repack or top them up.
- Apply the same procedure to packages with permissible deficiencies which are causing a failure of the average, in sufficient numbers to bring about a sample average that equals or exceeds the nominal marked measurement.
- Re-check a sample of this revised batch of packages to ensure that it now complies with the marked measurement.
- Consider other remedial actions if these procedures are uneconomic or impractical.
Selling non-compliant goods
Selling goods that don’t comply with package labelling laws can incur penalties. Where the breach is minor, however, NMI may issue a permit to sell these goods under certain conditions, including:
- breaches are not misleading
- rectifying the breach would impose unnecessary costs on the business
See our Register of permits issued for more details.