I recently had a lengthy chat with a lovely gentleman from the National Measurement Institute (previously Department of Weights and Measures) after I learned that officers had been visiting markets to check that products were being labeled correctly.  There was a fair bit of information that I confess, I did not know was so precise.

While we are all up on ensuring we have our ingredients listed, and in decreasing quantity order, did you know there are other labeling rules? Each product must be marked with the name and address of the person who packed the product or on whose behalf it was packed. This address must be a street address (PO Boxes are not acceptable) and in Australia so that contact is direct. Furthermore, did you know there were stringent laws around labeling of packaging weights? 
Keep in mind these rules apply to packaged goods which means completely encased in shrink wrap, boxed, paper, glass etc.  If you sell your goods naked, or partially wrapped (eg cigar bands), the rules do not apply, which I found incredibly interesting.

Their official rules state the following information:
                “if a prepackaged product is packed or sold, the package containing the product must be marked with a statement of the measurement of the product.  The statement must be marked in a way that will be clear, conspicuous, readily seen and easily read with the product is exposed for sale in the manner in which it is supposed to be exposed for sale.”

In other words, items that are displayed for sale must be clearly labeled with the measurement (e.g. weight). He went on to tell me that the weight must be visible on any side that would be presented on the shelf. For example, if there are two ways that a soap can be presented reasonably on a shelf (eg. on end or on its side) the weight must be listed on all options.  What I found quite interesting is that if you have all your details on the back but face your soap to the front the weight needs to be on BOTH sides so the display side has the weight as well as the details side.  The minimum size is 2mm so it doesn’t need to be large, but needs to be there.

The prepackage of soap that is not ahermetically sealed prepackaged may be marked “mass when packed” or similar as it is recognised that soap will lose water as it ages.  You are not allowed to say “gross mass”.  Your soap is allowed to be up to 21% deficient in weight (for one bar), but you must average no more than 16% short weight over a dozen or so randomly selected bars.  Overweight bars are not so quickly jumped on but should be no more than 6%.

If you sell unpackaged items these rules do not apply to you.

To summarise:
  • Products that have been completely encased in packaging must have the product weight, as well as the name and address of the supplier, clearly labeled on the packaging
  • The weight must be displayed on any side that can be presented on shelving (e.g. front and back)
  • For soap, they may be marked “mass when packed” however not “gross mass”

Please contact Laurie Wells if you have any questions regarding this information, or peruse the government websites

Guide to the Sale of Pre-packaged Goods

National Measurement Institute - Pre-packed Goods