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Selling Meat, Fish And Poultry

This leaflet has been prepared for the guidance of traders by the Northern Counties Chief Trading Standards Officers Group. It is not an authoritative document on the law and is only intended for guidance.

 

Description of "Meat"

The law covers meat of any sort, whether it is fresh , chilled, frozen, salted , cooked or processed. "Meat" includes any part of cattle, sheep or swine.

Items which, although they contain other food, consist substantially of meat are also included.

 

Selling Meat

If the items are prepacked (that is, they have been packed prior to sale in or on a container), then they must be marked with a statement of their "net weight" in metric (they may additionally be marked with their equivalent imperial weight). "Net weight" means the weight of the goods alone, without the wrapper or container.

If the items are not prepacked then they can be sold either "net weight" or "gross weight". "Gross weight" means that the weight of the goods plus the weight of the wrapper or container. However, there are strict controls on the weight of wrappers and if you wish to sell by gross weight you should ask for further advice. It is probably easier from the retailers point of view to sell by the "net weight", the use of thin film or paper to protect the goods when placed on the scale is not, however, likely to cause any difficulties for you.

Both prepacked and non-prepacked meat must be labelled with the type of meat and where appropriate, the cut of meat, ie beef sirloin, pork chops etc.

Where meat has been processed (ie tenderised etc), the process to which it has been subject shall be included in the description of the meat ( ie tenderised beef steak etc)

Where a meat has been previously frozen, it shall be labelled "previously frozen do not re-freeze".

Label approval from MAFF is required for fresh and frozen beef, veal and mince when more than basic information is given eg origin, breed, age, method of production, slaughter etc. An independent third party will need to be employed to verify this information.

 

Description of "Fish" and "Poultry"

The law covers fish or poultry of any sort, whether it is fresh, chilled, frozen, salted , cooked or processed. "Poultry" includes any part of poultry such as separate "wings" or "legs".

Fish descriptions are tightly controlled under the labelling of Food Regulations 1966 and only those descriptions may be applied to fish.

Items which, although they contain other food, consist substantially of fish or poultry are also included.

 

Selling Fish or Poultry

If the items are prepacked (that is, they must have been packed prior to the sale in or on a container), then they must be marked with a statement of their "net weight" or "gross weight" in metric (they may additionally be marked with their equivalent imperial weight). "Gross weight" means the weight of the goods plus the weight of any wrapper or container. However, there are strict controls on the weight of any wrapper or container and if you wish to sell by gross weight you should ask for further advice.

It is probably easier from the retailer's point of view to sell by "net weight", the use of thin film or paper to protect the goods when placed on the scale is not, however, likely to cause any difficulties for you.

Both prepacked and non-prepacked fish and poultry must be labelled with the type of fish or poultry and also, where appropriate, the portion of fish or poultry ie haddock fillet, salmon steaks, whole chicken, turkey breast etc.

Where fish or poultry has been processed (ie cooked, seasoned, smoked etc) the process to which it has been subject shall be included in the description of the food (ie cooked chicken, smoked mackerel etc).

Where fish or poultry has been previously frozen, it shall be labelled "previously frozen - do not refreeze".

Sale by Weight

The law requires that the customer knows the weight before paying for or receiving the goods. This can best be done by weighing in front of the customer (not out of sight!), or by marking the weight on the wrapper, or on a separate ticket.

If you want to sell by "gross weight" but the wrapper weight exceeds the permitted limits, then you must state the "net weight".

If your customer does not take the goods "there and then" you must give the customer a written statement of the weight of the goods, either before, or at the time of delivery to him or her.

You cannot sell by price only!

 

Trimming, Boning and Preparation

Very often customers will ask you to prepare meat, fish or dress poultry.

Unfortunately, experience has shown that many customers do not understand that purchase price may often be based on the unprepared weight of the goods and mistakenly think they have been given "short weight".

It will be in your interest to make sure that the customer knows the weight prior to preparation and also ask if he/she wants the bones and trimmings.

If the customer asks for the goods to be prepared before they are weighed, then it is the prepared weight that must be made known; if you wish to do so there is no reason why you cannot offer the goods at two different prices - one based on the unprepared weight and the other based on the prepared weight.

 

Some Items Are Excluded

These include dripping, lard, pastes, shredded suet, pies, puddings, sausage rolls and items weighing less than 5 grams.

The following items do not have to be sold by weight, but they do have to be marked with the "net weight" if they are "prepacked":-

 

The Price Marking of Meat, Fish and Poultry

All foods offered for retail sale must be marked either with a selling price or a unit price.

Meat, fish and poultry sold loose (ie non-prepacked) must be marked with the unit price (eg 1.50/kg).

In general meat, fish and poultry sold prepacked must be marked with:-

 

Exemptions

Poultry sold prepacked in pre-established quantities need only be marked with:-

Prepacked in pre-established quantities means foods packed such that the quantity of the goods in the pack corresponds to a previously selected quantity eg 400g.

The same is true of the following products when sold prepacked in pre-established quantities:-

Also exempt from unit pricing is a portion of meat or poultry cut at the request and in the presence of the purchaser and meat and poultry sold at reduced price on account of danger of deterioration.

All of the above are still required to have the weight and selling price marked on.

 

Indicating the Price

The selling price and the unit price (price per kilogram) can be marked either:-

At all times they must be clear and identifiable by the prospective purchaser. Unit prices for prepacked foods must be given in metric.

 

Metrication

Prepacked goods must be sold in metric units, for example grams and kilograms. The equivalent in imperial units may be given in addition to the metric but must not be more prominent. Prepacking in metric units may only be done on metric weighing equipment.

 

October 2000


North Yorkshire County Council

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