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Australian Government: National Measurement InstituteAustralian Government: National Measurement Institute
National Measurement Institute
      

Meat

Download ourTrade Measurement and the Sale of Meat Factsheet or view the information below:

Does your business measure up?

If you are buying or selling meat by weight, you need to know about Australia’s trade measurement laws.

For example, you must make sure: 

  • packages are correctly labelled – with weight statements and packer identification
  • the net contents (excluding packaging material) of the package are not less than the stated weight
  • measuring instruments used for sales direct to the purchaser are approved and have been verified by a licensed technician (servicing licensee).

Details of these rules are set out in the National Measurement Act 1960 and the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009.

The laws apply to both wholesale and retail businesses. If you are caught short-measuring your customers, you could be fined up to $210,000 per offence as a company or up to $42,000 per offence as an individual.

Most meat must be sold by weight

Meat is any part of a dead animal including any attached bone or bone marrow, connective tissue, fat, rind, nerves, blood or skin. The following varieties of meat must be sold 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.

While some offal (cheek, liver, spleen, tail, tongue and tripe) of the animals listed above must be sold by weight, this does not apply to all offal (see below).

Processed meat is still classed as meat and therefore must be sold by net weight. This includes meat processed by adding preservatives, colourings or flavours, boning, cooking (except where it is sold to the customer on the premises where it is cooked), crumbing, curing, dicing, drying, freezing, glazing, marinading, mincing, pickling, salting, seasoning, shredding, slicing, smoking and tenderising.

Where meat which is not pre-packed is offered for sale at a predetermined price (e.g. $2.00 chops, pre priced roasts) there must be a statement of the weight and price per kilogram of the meat within close proximity of the marked price.

If the meat you’re selling by weight is measured in the presence of the customer, the customer must have an unobstructed view of the weighing process - including the readings on the scale or indicator. Otherwise, a written statement identifying each item’s weight must be provided to the customer.

When weighing the meat, you must ensure the customer only pays for the product and not the packaging material. When selling a quantity of meat by weight, the weight of any packaging (e.g. plastic bags, wrapping or soaker pads) should not be included. This process is called ‘taring off’. Charging a customer for the weight of the packaging is an offence and could result in a costly financial penalty.

Some meat does not have to be sold by weight

The following varieties of meat do not have to be sold by weight:

  • rabbit
  • some offal (brains, feet and heads).

Meat that has been cooked on the premises where it is sold to the customer is exempt from sale by weight.

Meat subjected to the following processes is considered to have had its character substantially changed and does not have to be sold by weight:

  • blending (such as hamburgers, pastrami, sausages)
  • combining (such as shish kebab, stir fry)
  • fermenting (such as salami)
  • filling (such as chicken kiev)
  • reconstituting or pressed forming (such as chicken nuggets, devon)
  • stuffing.

While the products listed above do not have to be sold by weight, when they are sold by weight the relevant trade measurement laws apply and the weight must be accurate.

What if I use a scale to sell meat?

If you use a scale to weigh and sell meat that isn’t pre-packed, you must make sure the scale is:

  • an approved type, that is suitable for its intended purpose
  • verified by a servicing licensee
  • used in the correct manner (e.g. level and indicating zero before use)
  • positioned so that the customer can easily see the weighing process (unless you provide a written statement of the weight)
  • kept clean and in good working order
  • verified after each repair or adjustment.

It is your responsibility to make sure the scale is correct at all times.

NMI recommends that you have all your scales used for trade checked regularly by a technician licensed by NMI (servicing licensee). A list of servicing licensees for your area and instrument type is available from NMI’s Licensing Team on 1300 686 664 (option 2) or tmlicensees@measurement.gov.au.

What if I sell pre-packed meat?

All pre-packed meat, with some exceptions (see below), must be sold by weight and must be marked with a statement of the weight (excluding packaging material) on the principal display panel.

Weight statements should be printed, either on labels attached to the package or directly on the package itself. When the meat is packed and sold on the same premises, the statement can be hand-written.

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, the total price and price per kilogram must be marked either:

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

Some pre-packed meat can be sold by number

The following varieties of meat can be sold by number when pre-packed:

  • animal trotters and ears sold as pet food
  • kangaroo tails 
  • kebabs
  • offal (excluding liver and tripe).

If you sell these varieties of meat by number when prepacked, the packaging must be marked with the accurate count except when:

  • the package is transparent; and
  • contains less than nine (9) items.

Regulating the sale of meat

NMI employs trade measurement inspectors who can visit a place of business ‘at any reasonable time of day’ to check compliance with the regulations and take appropriate enforcement action where there have been breaches of the law.

Download ourTrade Measurement and the Sale of Meat Factsheet.

For more information

The main laws covering trade measurement are the National Measurement Act 1960 and the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009.

For more information contact 1300 686 664, infotm@measurement.gov.au or use our on-line form.