In the run-up to the implementation of the EU Food Information to Consumers Regulation (the FIC), the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has launched a further consultation on amendments to existing national legislation on weights and measures. Businesses have until 20 October to respond to the consultation which introduces the draft Weights and Measures (Food)(Amendment) Regulations 2014 and associated guidance.

The proposed amendments are designed to:

  • Bring enforcement of the Weights and Measures requirements under the FIC within the scope of the Existing Weights and Measures legislative framework; and
  • Remove any overlapping or contrasting national rules applicable to pre-packed foods (which will be subject to FIC from 13 December 2014)

The 2014 Regulations will revoke the provisions in national law which conflict or overlap with the requirements of EU FIC and also provide for the enforcement of quantity labelling aspects of FIC under the relevant national legislation, the Weights and Measures Act 1985. Enforcement will remain the responsibility of local Weights and Measures Authorities.

BIS is seeking views on whether the draft Weights and Measures (Food)(Amendment) Regulations 2014 and the corresponding amendments to national law are clear and workable. BIS is also seeking views on the guidance produced to accompany the draft Regulations.

Which areas of Legislation will be affected?

Weights and Measures Food Orders:

  • The scope of the national weights and measures legislation will be reduced so as to remove any pre-packed foods which are subject to EU FIC labelling rules from the national legislative framework.

This means that from 13 December 2014, the national legislation currently in place will only apply to:

  • packaged foods for direct sale
  • Foods sold loose
  • Foods sold in open containers
  • Relevant wholesale transactions (which does not include the sale/supply of food intended for consumers or mass caterers or any other EU FIC regulated sale. The supply of foods which are made up in advance ready for sale in an open container are also not included)

This will be achieved by amending the definition of "pre-packed" to limit its applications to foods for direct sale and/or foods made up in advance in open containers. A definition to explain what "relevant wholesale transactions" covers is also to be included.

  • The scope of the Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988 will be amended so volume labelling requirements no longer apply to pre-packed drinks subject to the directly applicable FIC requirements.

Packaged Goods Regulations (the PGR):

  • These regulations will be amended to exclude any non e-marked packages from the quantity labelling requirements applicable under the PGR. However e-marked packages will still be subject to the labelling requirements under PGR to ensure compliance with EU Directives relating to the weight or volume of certain pre-packaged products.

Weights and Measures (Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) Regulations 1987:

  • These regulations will be updated to clarify that certain requirements under Part 2 of this Regulation will not apply to pre-packed foods which are subject to FIC requirements.

New foods, or new categories of foods, will remain outside the scope of the 2014 Regulations while a review of the remaining requirements will be held in 2015.

Who Does it apply to?

The EU FIC applies to a food business operator (FBO). Manufacturers, FBOs and Retailers are encouraged to respond to the consultation and they have the ability to do so by 20 October 2014. A copy of the consultation document can be accessed here.