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   News Release

Clearing Up the Metric Muddle

On 11 September 2007 the European Commission announced its decision to extend indefinitely the use of supplementary Imperial indications, in other words pounds and ounces, on scales and on price indications next to metric units. Previously this was due to come to an end on 31 December 2009.


The Commission also declared its intention to permit the continued use of the mile for road signs and speed indications, the pint for milk in returnable bottles and for beer and cider on draught, and the troy ounce for precious metals.

Subsequent headlines such as "Victory for metric martyrs" and "Brussels has given up the fight to make the UK drop pints, pounds and miles", which appeared during September, caused some confusion among traders, particularly greengrocers and those selling fruit and vegetables at market stalls.

To clear up this confusion Roger Marles, Head of Trading Standards, issued the following statement:

"The legal position on the use of Imperial measures has not changed. Pre-packed goods and goods sold loose from bulk, such as fruit and vegetables, are still required to be sold in metric quantities and weighing scales must be calibrated in metric units of measurement. Suggestions that goods can now be sold in pounds and ounces are incorrect.

The only change, which has come about as a result of a recent EU ruling, is that goods can continue to be labelled with both metric and imperial quantities and with dual price per weight indications, indefinitely. Prior to this recent ruling dual marking was due to end in 2009.

Of course a shopper can ask for a pound of apples or half a pound of mince meat, but the retailer must weigh in metric and sell the metric equivalent. So far as the pint is concerned, again there is no practical change.

Roger added: ''As has been and is always the case, Trading Standards Officers will be applying a pragmatic, proportionate and sensible approach to assisting business compliance with the UK legal requirements. If retailers are in any doubt as to their legal responsibilities they should seek guidance from this service."

For more information please contact:

John Paddock, Food and Metrology Manager, 01452 426091

Gloucestershire Trading Standards, Hillfield House, Denmark Road, Gloucester GL1 3LD
 t: (01452) 426201 - f: (01452) 426274 - e: - Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4.00pm

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