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Selling meat

Meat is any part of a dead animal, including any attached bone or bone marrow, connective tissue, fat, rind, nerves, blood or skin.

Trade measurement laws regulate the retail and wholesale sale of meat.

Selling by weight

You must sell the following types of meat by weight:

  • amphibians, such as frogs
  • birds (chicken, duck, emu, geese, guineafowl, ostrich, pheasant, quail, squab and turkey)
  • buffalo
  • camel
  • cattle
  • deer
  • donkey
  • goat
  • hare
  • horse
  • kangaroo and wallaby
  • pig
  • reptiles (including crocodile) 
  • sheep.

You must sell the following types of offal of the animals listed above by weight:

  • cheek
  • liver
  • spleen
  • tail
  • tongue
  • tripe.

Processed meat

You must sell processed meat by net weight. This includes meat processed by:

  • adding preservatives, colourings or flavours 
  • boning
  • cooking (except where you sell to the customer on the premises where you cook it)
  • crumbing
  • curing
  • dicing
  • drying
  • freezing
  • glazing
  • marinading
  • mincing
  • pickling
  • salting
  • seasoning
  • shredding
  • slicing
  • smoking
  • tenderising.

Selling per item

If you sell meat that is not pre-packaged at a predetermined price (e.g. $2.00 chops or pre-priced roasts), you must advertise the weight and price per kilogram close to the marked price.

Meat not sold by weight

You do not have to sell the following by weight:

  • rabbit
  • some offal (brains, feet and heads)
  • meat you cook on the premises where you sell it
  • blended meat (such as hamburgers, pastrami, sausages)
  • combined meat (such as shish kebab, stir fry)
  • fermented meat (such as salami)
  • filled meat (such as chicken kiev)
  • reconstituted or pressed formed meat (such as chicken nuggets, devon)
  • stuffing.

If you do decide to sell these items by weight, you must follow the regulations for selling meat by weight.

Using scales

If you use a scale to weigh and sell meat that isn’t pre-packaged, you must ensure that:

  • the National Measurement Institute (NMI) has approved your type of scale and any attached modules (i.e. point of sale system) 
  • servicing licensee has verified your scales and any attached modules
  • you and your staff use the scales in the correct manner (e.g. level and indicating zero before use)
  • you position the scales so that the customer can easily see the weighing process (if not, you must provide a written statement of the weight)
  • you keep the scales clean and in good working order
  • a servicing licensee verifies the scales after each repair or adjustment.

You are responsible for making sure the scale is correct at all times.

We recommend that you have all your scales checked regularly by a technician licensed by NMI (servicing licensee). For a list of servicing licensees, email tmlicensees@measurement.gov.au.

Pre-packaged meat

If you sell pre-packaged meat, you must:

  • label each package with the weight of the meat
  • label each package with the name and address of the packer (unless you pack them on the same premises where you sell them) 
  • only display the net weight of the meat (do not include the weight of any packaging).

You should print weight statements either on labels attached to the package or directly on the package itself. When you pack and sell meat on the same premises, you can hand-write the statement.

The weight statement must be:

  • clear to read, at least 2 mm from the edge of the principal display panel and at least 2 mm from other graphics
  • in the same direction as the brand or product name
  • in a colour that provides a distinct contrast with the colour of the background.

In addition, if the packages are not all the same weight, you must mark the total price and price per kilogram either:

  • on the package in the same format as the weight statement
  • immediately adjacent to the package in characters at least 10 mm high.

Read the Guide to the sale of pre-packaged goods to find out more.

Regulating the sale of meat

The National Measurement Act 1960 and the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009 regulate how meat is sold using measurement.

NMI employs trade measurement inspectors throughout Australia. We regularly inspect meat being sold to ensure that sellers are following the correct process.

If an inspector finds that you are short-measuring your customers, you could be fined up to $222,000 per offence.

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