Packaging & Quantity

Packaged Goods

The Packaged Goods Quantity Control Act and the regulations under it prescribe the packages to which the quantity control system applies.  They cover those made

  • otherwise than in the presence of the purchaser and in a manner that none of the contents can be removed without opening the package;
  • have been made up in a predetermined constant quantity; and/or
  • marked with a quantity of contents in units of weight or volume.

Packaging containing goods for further processing, for exports or containing paint which consists of a base paint and colouriser are not subject to the system.

There are rules for when a package includes more than one quantity marked container, such as packages within packages.  In this case, the package is deemed to be one relevant container, and the other containers are ignored.


Markings

Markings on packages must be in prescribed units of weight and volume and in figures of a prescribed minimum size height.  They must bear the name and address of the packer or importer.  They must have an identifying code for enable it to be traced.

The size of print of quantities must be not less than that defined in the legislation.  The minimum height of characters and figures specified varies with the weight of the product.

Equipment of a prescribed type must be used unless there is an alternative mechanism to prove that the packages are properly made up. Checks are to be made by packers and importers. A portion of the package may contain less than nominal quantity declared, the tolerable negative error.  Records are to be retained. Forms of test are prescribed.


Pre-packaged Goods

Goods are pre-packaged when they can either be individually weighed with differing weight amounts or are pre-packaged in containers which are labelled as containing the same quantity.  The first type of pre-packaging is typically undertaken by the retailer and must contain the quantity displayed on the label.

The second type of prepackaging is generally undertaken by a product manufacturer. They may be contained in a range of types of container such as bottles, boxes, jars, plastic wrapping, et cetera.  They must comply with laws on quantities.

The manufacturer, packer or importer is responsible for compliance in relation to quantity. It must be able to produce records to verify compliance.  The contents of a package must be not less, on average, than the nominal quantity mark on the label.

The size of print of quantities must be not less than that defined in the legislation.  The minimum height of characters and figures specified varies with the weight of the product.

The name of the packer or person arranging the packing must be shown on the label.  In the case of non-food products, a mark which identifies the packer may suffice.


Tolerances

The legislation allows the manufacturer within limits to average out the amounts contained in each package. However, the overall measure of quantities in packages in a batch must equate with the amounts indicated in the labelling.

Not more than one package in forty may contain less than the nominal quantity by more than the tolerable negative error.  This amount varies depending on the quantity concerned.  The package must not contain less than twice the nominal amount of the tolerable negative error.

The average quantity system applies to packages made up out of sight of the purchaser which are intended to contain a definite predetermined quantity.The obligations are placed on the packer to ensure compliance with the reference test using  statistical methods.

The packer is obliged in some cases to ensure that packaging is undertaken using equipment described by the legislation.  Samples of packages made using prescribed equipment must be taken, recorded and retained for inspection.


Importer Obligations

Importers must ensure that the quantity shown on the packet is correctly marked.  They must carry out checking procedures to confirm quantity. They must keep records of their checks. They must retain them and other suitable documents in order to prove compliance.

Importers need not necessarily undertake tests where other suitable documentation is obtained. Suitable documentation will generally include copies of records and checks carried out by the packer and a statement by the legal metrology service of the relevant country of origin that the packer is subject to control equivalent to those in domestic/EU legislation and a statement by the packer that guarantees that none of the packages contains less than the nominal quantity.


E-Mark

The e-mark is a symbol which may be put on packages in the same field of vision as the normal quantity mark.  It is a guarantee by the packer or importer that the package has been made up in accordance with the average quantity system.

The e-mark may be used on packages having a normal quantity of not less than five grams or five milligrams or not more than 10 kilograms or 10 litres.  It may be applied by the packer or importer.  A Person wishing to export e-mark products or an importer intending to reexport them must give notice to the legal metrology services.


Single Market Reforms

A 2007 EU Directive lays down rules on the nominal quantities for products put in pre-packaging. It applies to prepacked products, subject to exceptions. Save as otherwise provided below, Member States may not, on grounds relating to the nominal quantities of the package, refuse, prohibit or restrict the placing on the market of prepacked products.

There are exceptions for certain wines and spirits. Where two or more individual pre-packages make up a multipack, the nominal quantities listed for the types of wine and spirits shall apply to each individual package.

Where a pre-package is made up of two or more individual packages which are not intended to be sold individually, the nominal quantities listed in section 1 of the Annex to the Directive  apply to the package.


Sale by Weight, Measure or Number Offences

A person who sells or offers to sell any product by weight, measure or number is guilty of an offence if the quantities that are sold or offered for sale, are less than that purported to be sold, exposed or offered for sale. The price charged must correspond to the total price to be paid or the stated price in accordance with the number or unit of measurement.

A person who in connection with the sale or purchase of goods, in exposing or offering them for sale, in purporting to make known to the buyer the quantity of the goods or in offering to purchase the goods, makes any representation, whether verbal or otherwise as to the quantity of goods or does any other act calculated to mislead the person buying or selling the goods as to the quantity, is guilty of an offence.


Public Weighing Facilities

A person may not undertake the weighing or measuring of an article, vehicle, vessel or animal by means of a weighing or measuring device available to the public, for which a charge is made unless he holds a certificate of competency from the Legal Metrology Service.  Breach is an offence.

Local authorities may provide weighing and measuring equipment as they see fit. They may employ persons to attend any weighing and measuring by means of equipment provided by the authority for use by the public.  Charges may be made.

A person who undertakes weighing and measuring for the public is guilty of an offence, if, without reasonable cause, he fails to carry out the weighing and measuring on demand, carries it out unfairly or fails to deliver a statement in writing of the weight or the measurement found or record the time and date thereof. In the case of a vehicle or a vessel, such particulars of the vessel and any load so identified, must be recorded.

The delivery of a false statement of any weight or measurement, the making of a false record or the commission of fraud in connection with any purported weighing or measuring is an offence.

Persons who make public weighing equipment available must make or obtain records of weighing and measurement and retain them for at least one year. Persons bringing articles, vehicles, vessels or animals carried out by the above equipment, must give their name and address on request.  Failure to do so is an offence.  An inspector may require the production of the certificate of appointment and details of all records.


Solid Fuel to be Sold by Weight

Solid fuel with the exception of heat and wood, whose characteristics have not been altered by an industrial process or are not mixed with other fuels are to be sold by weight, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary with the buyer. The seller of solid fuel sold loose or in a container other than as below, must give the buyer at the time of sale, a document which must at least state the quantity sold. Breach of this obligation is an offence.

A container of solid fuel, made up or imported in the State in the course of a business, other than in the presence of the buyer, which is of a type such that the contents or any part of them cannot be removed without opening it, must have expressed thereon in units of mass, the quantity of goods contained in the container.


Various Measuring Requirements

A road tanker mounted flow meter measuring system, for delivering or collecting liquid fuel or milk, must have a printing mechanism which provides tickets which are to be available to the user.  The ticket is to provide details of the time, date and quantity of the delivery or the collection. The maximum permissible errors for flow meters are set out in the legislation. A flow measuring meter must be tested on verification or on in-service inspection under practical working conditions.

There are specific requirements for various types of automated measuring machines. There are requirements in relation to verification of taxi meter systems.  A transfer of a taxi meter from one vehicle to another invalidates the verification. There are requirements in relation to various types of dispensers including, in particular, those for dispensing intoxicating liquor.


References and Sources

Packaged Goods (Quantity Control) Act 1980

 Packaged Goods (Quantity Control) Regulations 1981, S.I. No.

39 of 1981

 Packaged Goods (Quantity Control) Act, 1980 (Commencement)

Order 1981, S.I. No. 41 of 1981

Metrology Act 1996

 Weights and Measures (General) Regulations 1928 [Vol. XXII p.

249] S.R.& O. No. 71 of 1928

 Weights and Measures (Departmental Fees) Order 1928 [Vol.

XXII p. 333] S.R.& O. No. 78 of 1928

 Gas Meters (Stamps) Regulations 1958, S.I. No. 138 of 1958457

 Weights and Measures (Taximeter : Section 136 of the Road

Traffic Act, 1933) (Amendment) Regulations 1958, S.I. No. 139

of 19584

 Weights and Measures (Metric Equivalents) Order 1976, S.I. No.

91 of 1976

 Metrology Act, 1996 (Commencement and Establishment Day)

Order 1997, S.I. No. 177 of 1997

 Legal Metrology (Type Approval) Regulations 2006, S.I. No. 207

of 2006

 Legal Metrology (European Conformity Assessment of

Measuring Instruments) Regulations 2007, S.I. No. 160 of 2007

27/1996

A number of SIs made under enabling provisions which are repealed

They include S.R.& O. No.

13 of 1924 (superseded by S.I. No. 78 of 1928 which referred in art. 1 to determination of fees “in substitution of

those hitherto determined”), S.R.& O. No. 19 of 1928, S.R & O. No. 80 of 1928 and S.R. & O. No. 2 of 1929 (time

limited and superseded by general prohibition on use of pint as a unit of measure in S.I No. 255 of 1992), S.R.& O. No.

14 of 1931 (amends superseded regulations), S.R.& O. No. 313 of 1940 (superseded by S.I. No. 87 of 1948), S.I. No. 87

of 1948 (superseded by S.I. No. 385 of 1952), S.I. No. 385 of 1952 (time limited).

455

Revoked by S.I. No. 323 of 2008, reg. 72, except in relation to instruments in use.

456

The enabling provisions in Weights and Measures Act 1889, Weights and Measures Act 1904, Gas Regulations Act

1920, ss. 11-14 and Weights and Measures Act 1928 were repealed by 27/1996, s. 6(1) and sch. 1 part 1, subject to

continuation of existing SIs under subs. (3). This SI appears to be obsolete and should be revoked.

457

The enabling provision in Gas Regulation Act 1928 (24/1928) was repealed by 27/1996, s. 6(1) and sch. 1 part 1, subject

to continuation of existing SIs under subs. (3). This SI appears to be obsolete and should be revoked.

458

The enabling provision in Weights and Measures Act 1904 was repealed by 27/1996, s. 6(1) and sch. 1 part 1, subject to continuation of existing SIs under subs. (3). This SI appears to be obsolete.

128

 Legal Metrology (General) Regulations 2008, S.I. No. 323 of 2008

 Legal Metrology (European Conformity Assessment of Measuring Instruments) (Amendment) Regulations 2010, S.I. No. 543 of 2010