What are Packaged Goods Regulations?
As a rule, a ‘package’ refers to something that contains a product that got ‘packed’ without the purchaser being present.
So, the regulations on packaged goods apply to products that meet these three specific requirements:
- The goods will sell to the customer as a sealed unit.
- They weigh between 5 g and 25 kg (or 5 ml to 25 litres volume).
- They have the same weight or volume as other ‘same type’ products.
It also means there is no way of altering the quantity of the package without opening or modifying the packaging. Under the Packaged Goods Regulations, there are two different ways of packing products.
The Minimum System
Packing products in a way that they contain at least the quantity displayed on the labels would be the ‘minimum system’.
Note: The quantity of the packages can be more than the label states. But, it must not be less.
The Average System
Packing products to an average measurement stated on the label would be the ‘average system’. As a packer or an importer, you must ensure the quantities of any random sample meet the packaged goods rules.
Trading Standards refer to the compliance of this packing system as ‘three packers’ rules, meaning:
- Based as an average, the contents of any package must not be less than the nominal quantity.
- Only a small proportion can fall short of the TNE (a defined margin of error).
- No single package should be short or underweight by more than twice the ‘tolerable negative error’ (TNE).
Packaged Goods Tolerable Negative Error (TNE)
- 5 to 50 units: TNE 9%
- 50 to 100: TNE 4.5 (g or ml)
- 100 to 200: TNE 4.5%
- 200 to 300: TNE 9 (g or ml)
- 300 to 500: TNE 3%
- 500 to 1,000: TNE 15 (g or ml)
- 1,000 to 10,000: TNE 1.5%
- 10,000 to 15,000: TNE 150 (g or ml)
- Over 15,000 units: TNE 1%
Special rules apply when calculating the tolerable negative error (TNE) as a percentage of the quantity. If so, you would need to round up the weight or the volume to the nearest 0.10 of a gram or millilitre.
Contact your regional Trading Standards office for further help. They can offer expert guidance explaining how to pack products according to the average system.
You can also read the ‘Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006‘. It provides extra details and information with specific direction for business.
Failing to pack or label packaged or imported goods correctly can result in a heavy fine or a prison sentence.
Weights and Measures Equipment and Records
Equipment Used for Packaged Goods
You must use suitable equipment to weigh or measure your packaged goods. Even so, there are no specific rules on what equipment you need to use. Nevertheless, Packaged Goods Regulations do not allow the use of domestic scales to weigh goods intended for sale.
The Trading Standards office can confirm what is suitable equipment for business sector use. Trading Standards also check the weights and measures of goods on a production line. One of their roles is ensuring any equipment used gives accurate results.
Keeping Proper Records
If you use the average system to pack products you will need to keep proper records. You would need to record the results of sample batches. The records must also show how the samples meet the ‘three packers’ rule for the United Kingdom.
You need to keep these records for at least one (1) year from (the shorter period of):
- The date you ship the packages
- The ‘use by’ date stamped on the package.
Note: There would be no need to keep records if you are measuring every package or you are using the minimum system to pack products.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Weights and Measures Regulations | How units of measurement law applies to packaged or loose goods.
Labelling Packaged Goods | The UK rules on putting the weight or volume of packaged goods on a label.