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Australian Government: National Measurement Institute - Trade MeasurementAustralian Government: National Measurement Institute - Trade Measurement
National Measurement Institute

Meat and Seafood

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The law requires that suppliers such as butchers, supermarkets, fishmongers and poultry retailers sell most types of meat, fish and poultry by weight, rather than charging a set price for individual items. This allows customers to compare prices (value) and therefore make informed choices.

What is Meat?

Meat is any part of a dead animal including any attached bone or bone marrow, connective tissue, fat, rind, nerves, blood or skin.

Meat must be sold by net weight, that is excluding the weight of any packaging, labels, wrapping or soaker pads. However meat that has had its character substantially changed is no longer considered meat for the purposes of the legislation and does not have to be sold by weight.

Meat that Must be Sold by Weight

The following items are defined as meat and therefore must be sold by net weight: amphibians such as frogs, birds (including chicken, duck, emu, geese, guineafowl, ostrich, pheasant, quail, squab and turkey), buffalo, camel, cattle, deer, donkey, fish (but not shellfish – see below), goat, hare, horse, kangaroo and wallaby, offal (such as cheek, liver, spleen, tail, tongue and tripe – but not other offal, see below), pig, reptiles (including crocodile) and sheep.

Processed meat is still classed as meat and therefore must be sold by net weight. This includes meat processed by adding of 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, forming, freezing, glazing, marinading, mincing, pickling, salting, seasoning, shredding, slicing, smoking and tenderising.

Meat that Does Not have to be Sold by Weight

These items are not classed as meat by the trade measurement legislation so do not have to be sold by weight:

  • rabbit
  • offal such as brains, feet and heads
  • molluscs (e.g. mussels, oysters, octopus, scallops and squid)
  • crustaceans (e.g. crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimps)

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

Meat subjected to some processes is considered to have had its character substantially changed and so is no longer meat. Meat subjected to the following does not have to be sold by weight:

  • blending (e.g. hamburgers, pastrami, sausages)
  • combining (e.g. shish kebab, stir fry)
  • fermenting (e.g. salami)
  • filling (e.g. chicken kiev)
  • reconstituting (e.g. chicken nuggets, devon)
  • stuffing in poultry

For a complete list of items included and excluded from the definition of meat to be sold by weight, see regulation 1.5 of the National Trade Measurement Regulations.

Measuring Meat in Front of Customers

If meat is measured and sold by weight in front of customers, then the customer must have the opportunity to see the measuring process including the readings on the measuring instruments.

Meat Orders

When an order of meat other than that weighed while the customer is present is delivered to the customer, it must be accompanied by a clear, written statement of the weight of each cut on which the purchase price is based.

The statement of weight can be written on the outside of the package or on an invoice or label accompanying it.

Prepacked Meat

Meat packed before it is offered for sale can be packed in bags, trays or any other kind of packaging.

All prepacked meat must be marked with the correct net weight and price per kilogram.

The marked weight cannot include the weight of any packaging.

When selling by weight, sellers are responsible for the accuracy of their measuring instruments. The instruments must:
  • be of a type approved by NMI and legal for trade use
  • be verified as accurate by a servicing licensee before they are used
  • register zero before they are used
  • be properly installed and appropriate for the intended use
  • be used correctly by staff who have had adequate training in their correct use

Regulating the Sale of Meat

NMI employs trade measurement inspectors throughout Australia. The role of inspectors is:

  • to ensure that all measuring instruments used for trade are verified and used correctly
  • to monitor the verification activities of servicing licensees
  • to check prepackages for correct packer identification, measurement markings and accurate measure
  • to investigate complaints and resolve problems with trade measurement matters
  • to issue infringement notices or take prosecution action where there have been breaches of the laws

Sellers should check the health and safety regulations in their state, territory or council area.

For more Information

The main laws covering trade measurement are the National Measurement Act and the National Trade Measurement Regulations. See regulation 1.5 for classifications of various types of meat and how it must be sold.

For more information contact 1300 686 664, or use our on-line form.