A trade measurement audit program will be introduced by the federal government in 2022 to ensure imported food and grocery goods measure up for Australian households.
Inspectors from the National Measurement Institute (NMI) will audit importers from 4 January to 30 June 2022 under its 2021-22 National Compliance Plan. After reviewing data on non-compliance detected in previous inspections, the focus will be on oils and seasonings, pet foods, beverages, sanitisers and cleaning products.
Importers are a trader type with consistently above average rates of non-compliance over recent years.
“Trade measurement inspectors will audit at least 400 importers nationwide and check a minimum of 8,000 types of packaged goods to make sure they contain the amount of product stated on the label,” minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said.
“Inspectors will also be reviewing documentation to show that importers have appropriate systems in place to make sure they are doing the right thing. The law is clear. Consumers should be able to make informed purchasing decisions and know what they are paying for.
“Just as importantly, Australian manufacturers who comply with our laws should be able to compete with imports on a level playing field.”
Consumers have a right to be confident that the marked weight or volume of packaged products is accurate, Price said.
“If a container is marked 500ml then there should be 500ml of product in that container,” she said.
“Importers owe it to consumers to get it right. It is their responsibility to check that the goods they import are accurately labelled. The National Measurement Institute can issue fines to businesses found to be breaching the law and persistent offenders can face court action.”
Where non-compliance is found, NMI can issue infringement notices with fines of $1,110 per offence. If the case is serious enough for a prosecution, the maximum fines are $222,000 per offence as a company or $44,400 per offence as an individual.
For more information on trade measurement law or if you are concerned that packaged products do not contain the right weight or volume, contact the National Trade Measurement helpline on 1300 686 664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.