© 2011 itsa Ltd on behalf of the Trading Standards Institute.
Weights and measures requirements placed upon fishmongers selling products loose as well as prepacked
This guidance is for England and Wales
This guide is intended to help you understand what the law says about the way you are required to sell fish to the ultimate consumer. It does not cover wholesale transactions, which are exempt from weights and measures requirements other than the need for reasonable accuracy of stated quantities.
The guide outlines the primary requirements of weights and measures and pricing legislation as applicable to retail sales by fishmongers, and as enforced by the trading standards service.
As a general rule, fish is required to be sold by net weight or by gross weight if the wrapper or container is within certain specified limits (there are some exemptions). In general, all fish that are required to be sold by weight - whether prepacked or non-prepacked - shall display the unit price in terms of a price per kilogram, and when prepacked indicate the selling price. Customers must be able to see the price indication without asking for assistance.
In the guide
Other legislation that applies to fishmongers covers labelling and compositional requirements for food - please see 'Food labelling for fishmongers' for further information. Please also see 'Weighing equipment in use for trade', which gives guidance on the controls over the scales you use.
Fish is defined as including fish of any description whether fresh, chilled, frozen, salted, cooked or processed. It also covers fish products that are made substantially of fish.
General selling methods
As a general rule, fish is required to be sold by net weight (produce without the wrapper) or by gross weight if the wrapper or container is within the limits set out in the table at the end of this guide.
However, there is a range of exemptions, as follows:
- packs of less than 5g
- multi-packs not marked with weight, provided the container is marked with the number of countable items or is clearly visible through it
- shellfish in shell, jellied fish, pickled fish and fried fish are exempt from weight control completely
- prepacked items in heavier containers (see table of container weights below) have to be marked with net weight only
- multi-packs of two or more types of prepacked produce - each pack is individually marked or the outer is marked with the number of packs and description of each one, or the packs are the same and at least one is clearly visible through the wrapper
- where you are preparing, boning or cleaning fish at the request of the customer, you will need to make it clear that the weight used is the pre-prepared weight and not the final weight, unless the contract specifies otherwise
Specific requirements for sales from a boat
Retail sales of fish from other than a market, stall, shop or vehicle - that is, directly from a boat (but not from a stall adjacent to a boat) are exempt from all weight controls unless sold prepacked.
Voluntary indications of quantity
Some fishmongers voluntarily sell items from the exempt list above - for example, shellfish in shell, by capacity. There is no requirement to do so, but where it is done it must be accurate, in metric terms and where a measure of capacity is used it must be stamped.
Table of container weights
Weights for fish sold gross in a container:
Permitted weight of container
Not exceeding 500g
A weight at the rate of 10g per kg of the gross weight
Price marking requirements
As stated above, all fish required to be sold by weight, whether prepacked or non-prepacked, shall display the unit price in terms of a price per kg, and when prepacked indicate the selling price.
The price indication must be in writing, unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible. Customers must be able to see the price indication without asking for assistance.
Prepacked items must be marked with the selling price. In addition, the unit price must be indicated either on, or near, the goods, or on a price list. The selling price must be calculated by reference to the unit price and the weight.
For non-prepacked items, the unit price must be indicated either on, or near, the goods, or on a price list.
The unit price must be in metric, generally the price per kg. You may, in addition, show the unit price per lb, or if voluntarily selling by capacity, by the litre or 100ml or metric equivalents to the pint or half pint, but the metric marking should be first and more prominent.
Although not required to be sold by quantity, cooked or ready to eat crustacea can be voluntarily sold by measure from bulk to the customer, but the unit price by the 100g or 100ml must be displayed.
Fishmongers with premises of up to 280 sq m may be exempt from certain price marking requirements. Please contact your local trading standards service for further advice on your specific circumstances.
Trading fairly with your customers
The law requires you not to trade unfairly with your customers. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 ban traders from using unfair commercial practices towards consumers and set out broad rules outlining when commercial practices are unfair. Please see 'Consumer protection from unfair trading'.
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law. Any legislation referred to, while still current, may have been amended from the form in which it was originally enacted. Please contact us for further information.
Last reviewed/updated: June 2013
© 2014 itsa Ltd on behalf of the Trading Standards Institute.