Lifestyle

Weight a minute, are you getting what you paid for?

By David Rak

HAVE you ever opened a bag of chips and felt like you got ripped off?

If you have, you might be right.

In a special investigation and armed with a new set of digital kitchen scales, the Riverine Herald has weighed a selection of common items in an average weekly shop and found most were under the advertised weight.

All were purchased in Echuca-Moama.

Multiple products and brands were measured, with the worst – a 500ml Fountain tomato sauce – coming in 6 per cent lighter than the contents stated on the packaging.

A jar of Val Verde passata cooking sauce only had 679g of the advertised 700g

And a box of 20 Smiths crinkle cut chips was advertised as weighing 380g but once the packaging was removed the chips weighed only 366g.

A can of Coles yellowfin tuna chunks was 3g under, and a can of Sirena tuna with basil infused oil was 2g under.

But surprisingly, a can of Tassal roasted salmon, with a claimed weight of 95g, came in at a generous 100g.

The Federal Government’s National Measurement Institute (NMI) annual report on measurement compliance for 2016–17, found 34 per cent of the 10,000 Australian companies audited were not meeting their legal obligations when it came to measurements.

NMI has 75 trade measurement staff based in 22 locations across Australia. Its measurement inspectors test measuring instruments and inspect packaged goods.

They also follow up on complaints about potential breaches and take enforcement action when necessary.

The NMI examined 87,964 different pre-packaged product lines in 2016-2017 and found 96 per cent contained correct measure.

Product categories with the highest rates of incorrect measure included ready to eat/cook meals and fresh seafood and meat.

NMI legal metrology general manager Bill Loizides said the results highlighted the importance of NMI’s trade measurement compliance activities.

“Australians purchase millions of goods every day expecting they will get exactly the goods they pay for, whether by weight, volume, area, length or count,” he said.

“The report confirms most businesses are doing the right thing by their customers.

“However, where severe or persistent offenders are found, NMI has the option of imposing fines or referring matters for prosecution.”

Echuca mother Jodi Spence said feeding a family was hard enough without getting short changed at the checkout.

“It’s a surprise there were a lot of products underweight but it’s something we have often been suspicious of,” she said.

“Quite often we open a pack of chips and it looks like it’s half full.

‘‘My husband and children often comment about how little is in the packet — we might start using our kitchen scales a bit more often too.”

For more information or to report a suspected breach of the rules, consumers and business should contact the national trade measurement hotline on 1300 686 664 or email infotm@measurement.gov.au