© 2011 itsa Ltd on behalf of the Trading Standards Institute.
Requirements for fishmongers regarding products sold loose and/or prepacked
This guidance is for England & Wales
There are a number of legal requirements that fishmongers need to be aware of when selling products by weight (whether at the request of customers or prepacked ready for sale), which include weighing equipment construction and quantity price marking. For example, using a 'government stamped' scale (as they are known), pricing and selling in metric quantities and marking prepacked goods with the weight of the product.
Customers must be informed of the weight before paying for and receiving their goods. In general all foods, whether sold loose from bulk or prepacked, must be priced in a manner that can be seen by customers without them having to ask.
In the guide
Weights & measures requirements
In relation to the fishmonger trade, weights and measures
legislation applies to the sale of fish that is fresh, chilled,
frozen, salted, cooked or processed. It also covers products that
are made substantially of fish but does not apply to fish
In general, fish and fish products MUST be sold by the
Prepacked items must be marked with the net weight of the
product in metric units. This is not required on packs of fish
pies, puddings or flans where the pack is marked with the number
of items or the number of items can be seen without opening the
pack. Very small packs containing less than 5g of product do not
have to have the net weight marked on them.
Non-prepacked items, including products cut or selected from a
larger bulk as requested by the customer, must be sold by net
weight or by gross weight if the weight of the bag, wrapper or
container used to serve the product in is not greater than that
allowed for in the table below.
These requirements do not apply to:
- fish pies, puddings or flans
- sales of less than 5g of product
- jellied, pickled or fried fish
- fish sold otherwise than from a market, shop, stall or
vehicle - directly from a boat for example
Your local trading standards service will also be able to give
you more detailed advice regarding which products the above
exemptions apply to.
- net weight means the
weight of the goods alone without the bag, wrapper or
- gross weight means the
weight of the goods plus the weight of any bag, wrapper or
TABLE OF CONTAINER WEIGHTS
Weights for fish sold gross in a container:
||Permitted weight of
|more than 500g
||A weight at the
rate of 10g per kg of the gross weight
Scales that are used must be accurate and of an approved
construction for retail sale use and have certain required
markings and stamps on them - for more detail please see 'Weighing equipment for legal use'.
The customer must be informed of the weight of the product and
the price before paying for it. This can be done by:
- weighing the product in front of the customer so that he
has a clear view of the weight indication on the scales
- telling the customer what the weight of the product is if
the scales are out of his sight
- marking the weight on the bag, wrapper or container
- marking the weight on a separate ticket or till
In the case of customer requests for boned, trimmed or cleaned
fish etc the customer should be advised whether the weight to be
charged for will be before or after the product is prepared for
There are no specific legal requirements regarding the sale of
shellfish, which can therefore be sold by weight, volume or by
the traditional shellfish-stall tub, pot, saucer, etc. Any weight
or volume used to sell shellfish by must be a metric quantity -
grams, kilograms or litres - and 'government stamped' weighing
and measuring equipment should be used to determine the quantity
sold. If shellfish is sold without reference to a quantity the
price for each tub, pot or saucer should be clearly indicated to
This guidance is intended as advice for traditional fishmonger
businesses supplying products at the request of customers.
If your business also prepares large quantities of prepacked
products in set quantities, for example 500g packs of frozen
fish, you may wish to take advantage of packing them using the
average-quantity system, which makes allowances for small
variations in package weights.
For more information on this system please see 'Packaged goods - average quantity' you may also wish to seek specific
advice from your local trading standards service.
Price marking requirements
In general all foods must have their price displayed and
include VAT where applicable.
The price must be displayed on or near the product, be
unambiguous and easily read by customers without them having to
ask for assistance.
For most non-prepacked items or for products where the
customer requests a particular quantity, the unit price per
kilogram must be indicated on or near the goods, or on a price
list. An exemption from this is cooked or ready-to-eat fish,
which should be priced per 100g. You may also display a price per
pound but this must not be more prominent than the metric
kilogram price. For more expensive products you may also
assist customers with an additional price per 100g where this
might give a more meaningful indication of the price the customer
will have to pay.
For fishmonger counters in shops with a sales area of more
than 280 square metres (which are those subject to Sunday-trading
hour restrictions) the unit price of prepacked products must also
be displayed on or near the goods, on a shelf edge ticket for
example, or on a price list.
However, there are exceptions. The main ones are as
- products near their expiry date and sold at a reduced
- products that are not required to be sold by weight - for
example, fish pies, puddings and flans
- an assortment of different items sold as a single pack -
for example, 'cod and chips'
- any product where the unit price is identical to the
The unit price must be in metric, generally the price per
kilogram. The unit price per pound may also be given in addition
to the metric marking but must be given less prominence.
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text. Amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Please contact us for further information.
Last reviewed/updated: September 2015
© 2015 itsa Ltd.