After a tough year for Australian families, the Morrison Government is making sure they can shop with confidence when buying their Christmas groceries, with a two-week blitz on fresh food sales.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said inspectors from the National Measurement Institute (NMI) would audit around 450 supermarkets, butchers, fresh fish and chicken shops to ensure customers are getting their money’s worth this festive season.
“There has never been more strain on the budgets of many Australian families due to COVID-19, so this year we’re especially determined to make sure you get what you pay for,” Minister Andrews said.
“Whether it’s a ham or turkey, cherries or chicken, seafood or sausages; if you’ve paid for a kilo, you expect to receive a full kilo. Our inspectors will not only be checking that scales are working properly but also ensuring pre-packaged goods are correctly labelled and contain the right amount of product.
“We know that most businesses are doing the right thing – that’s why we’re concentrating on those previously found to be in breach of trade measurement law.
“We also want to make sure the major supermarkets have put in place the compliance measures they promised to as part of a landmark agreement last year.”
NMI inspectors will make ‘secret shopper’ purchases to check that businesses are following correct trading practices, such as accounting for the weight of packaging materials when selling over the counter, ensuring scales are working accurately, and that fresh meat, fish and poultry are clearly labelled with the price per kilo.
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.
In 2019, NMI reached agreements with the supermarket chains which included improvements to staff training programs on measurement accuracy, improvements to checks of weighing instruments, and regular reporting to NMI on the progress made. The major supermarkets have already made significant changes to their procedures as a result of these agreements.