A Question of Measurement but which is the Correct Weight?

by Joe Lederman and John Gao © Lawmedia Pty Ltd, May 2007
Food Lawyers and Consultants

Under Australian laws and regulations, there exist 3 different legislative regimes to work out the correct weight of food product and its ingredients. All three schemes have the effect of law and yet they are not always consistent. For some products, it may be impossible to comply with all three schemes without underquoting. This article looks at the three conflicting schemes and discusses the issues that they raise and the potential solution.

Disclaimer: This article should not be read as providing legal advice. Accordingly, readers must not rely upon this article as the basis for making any decisions whether of a legal or commercial or technological nature. Information contained herein was written in May 2007. This article will NOT be updated to reflect future changes.

The labelling of the measurement of food and ingredients in Australia is governed potentially by 3 separate and different pieces of law: (1) the uniform Trade Measurement Regulations of the States and Territories, (2) the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and (3) the Trade Practices Act 1974. All three legislative regimes provide different rules about how measurements in relation to food and ingredients are to be measured.

The products most affected by the difference in measurement rules are those which contain large amounts of water and those which are processed after the product has been packaged. An example of a product falling within a problem “no mans land” or, worse still, a “Kashmir zone” where all the different regulators are potentially fighting to govern the turf, is canned fruit. Canned fruit is made by adding raw fruit to water in a can and cooked after the product is packaged.

1. Trade Measurements Regulations

Uniform Trade Measurements Regulations exist in all of the States and Territories except Western Australia which has its own Weights and Measures Regulations but is nonetheless based on the same principles in each Australian jurisdiction.

The uniform Trade Measurements Regulations state:


“When a pre-packed article is packed or sold, the package containing the article must be marked with a statement of the measurement of the article.” (See eg Trade Measurement (Interim) Regulations 2006 (Vic) reg 62(1))

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