Responses and revisions:

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published the Government's answer to the responses received from the consultation on proposed amendments to the existing national weights and measures legislation, in the build up to the implementation of the EU Food Information to Consumers Regulation (FIC).

On 18 November the summary of the Government's response to the consultation was published alongside the responses received from industry, trade groups and members of the public. A total of 10 responses were received during the consultation period.

Summary of responses received from BIS

The responses received from industry, trading standards, trade associations and one individual highlighted a selection of themes on the proposed legislation:

  • The majority of respondents felt the proposed regulations and guidance were unclear or confusing when read against the existing legislation and the provisions of FIC. In particular, a lack of working examples or illustrations as to the scope of the new Regulations was noted as something which would be helpful for businesses and regulators going forward
  • There was concern over the definition of "pre-packed" in the regulations and whether it was sufficient to mean the same as the definition used in FIC and existing national legislation
  • There was similar concern over the introduction of the definition of "loose food", "pre-packed for direct sale" and "FIC Regulation"
  • Two respondents raised concerns over the proposal for a larger minimum font size for e-marked products

The Government's response

BIS has confirmed it will make minor amendments to both the Regulations and the guidance to take into account the concerns of the respondents. The amendments will include minor changes to references for different definitions and articles in a variety of secondary weights and measures legislation, as well as excluding products subject to FIC from Schedule 7 of the Weights and Measures Act 1985.

The other significant amendment to be implemented into the Regulations and accompanying guidance is the inclusion of clearer information as to what provisions of the Regulations will apply to different foodstuffs. This information will be in table format in the guidance document to be produced. This table will cover different product categories as well as further information relating to the definitions of "pre-packed" and "direct sale".

The changes the Government will make to the Guidance accompany the Regulations before the legislation comes into force can be summarised as follows:

  • Clarify what is meant by "pre-packed" in different legislation
  • Include a table showing which requirements apply to which product categories
  • Include a definition of "direct sale"
  • Include a cross reference to the Packaged Goods Regulations (PGR) guidance on legibility
  • Clarify that any changes made to PGR are restricted to non e-marked products only

Next Steps

The Government's response is not, however, demonstrative of the need for a wide ranging set of amendments to make the Regulations workable before they come into force. The majority of the Government's proposals will remain, with a select number of amendments being minor additions to the provisions originally proposed. Click here to view both the responses received by BIS and the Government.

The legislation will come into force on 13 December 2014, the same date as the FIC comes into effect. The guidance to the new legislation will be made available on the BIS section on the gov.uk website at the same time.