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Trading Standards weights and measures

Trading Standards Officers have a wide variety of responsibilities and may well visit your premises.

They will often randomly test spirits to make sure that they have the correct ABV and that they are indeed the brand shown on the label. They can carry out a preliminary analysis there and then which is sufficient to determine whether there are failings in either regard. This will then be followed up by a formal sample being sent off to a laboratory for analysis.

From an operator’s point of view it is therefore imperative to properly train staff in terms of how to correctly store and dispense spirits. Leaving bottles open overnight may leave them exposed to natural processes of evaporation and condensation which may adversely affect both the ABV and the quality of the spirit. This can lead to problems.

Prosecutions are dealt with severely by the Courts and may even land in the Crown Court. Fines – even in the Magistrates’ Court – can be unlimited.

Trading Standards Officers may also order drinks and then measure them to determine that your staff have not under or over poured. They will do this with spirits, wine and also beer. There is a very low tolerance for error and therefore once again staff need to be trained in terms of accurately dispensing measures even when they are very busy. Prosecutions can once again run into thousands of pounds in the Magistrates’ Court.

Both the prices and volumes in which drinks are dispensed should be clearly displayed within the premises so that customers know exactly what they are paying for. Failure to do so can once again result in prosecution.

Weights and Measures legislation which came into force on 1st October 2011 now allows the sale of wine in measures of under 75ml (for example as sample measures) and beers and ciders to be sold in 2/3rd pint ‘schooners’, applicable when sold for consumption on the premises. Additionally, fortified wine must be sold in smaller sizes of 50ml and 70ml.

A brief summary of the new ‘specified quantities’ is therefore:

  • Draught beer and cider sold on licensed premises must be sold only in 1/3 pint, ½ pint, 2/3 pint or multiples of ½ pint;
  • Still wine, when sold by the glass, must sold in specified quantities of 125 ml or 175 ml or a multiple of either, but wine in a quantity below 75 ml is exempt
  • Fortified wine, when sold by the glass, must be sold in 50 ml or 70 ml or a multiple of either;
  • Gin, vodka or rum in multiples of either 25ml or 35ml (not both on the same premises)

Please note that this new legislation does not affect the Mandatory Licensing Conditions which require beer or cider to be available in ½ pints, gin, rum, vodka or whisky in 25ml or 35ml and still wine in a glass in 125ml measures, and that customers are made aware of the availability of these measures.

If you have any queries please contact Graeme Cushion.

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