Small Bakers and Average Weight
This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. A large print version is available.
These notes are intended as a guide to the provisions of the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006 and The Weights and Measures Act 1985 as they apply to small bakers. If you have specific queries you should contact your local Weights and Measures Inspector for advice.
Loaves controlled by the new Regulations
The average weight requirements apply to loaves of bread of 300g or more made up in prescribed predetermined constant quantities of 400g, 800g, or multiples of 400g.
Loaves weighing less than 300g are not caught by the requirements.
What do I need to do?
If you make such loaves of bread or complete the baking of part baked loaves you have a duty to ensure that they are made up in such a way as to satisfy the following rules:
(a) the loaves shall be not less, on average, than the predetermined constant quantity (i.e. 400g or 800g);
(b) the proportion of loaves weighing less than the predetermined constant quantity by more than the tolerable negative error shall be less than the specified amount for batches of packages; (e.g. for batches of less than 100 loaves no more than 1 in 20 loaves may weigh below 388g for a 400g loaf and 785g for an 800g loaf)
(c) no loaf shall weigh less than the predetermined constant quantity by more than an amount equivalent to twice the tolerable negative error.(i.e. 376g ; 770g.)
How can I do this?
You will need to carry out checks on the weights of finished loaves from each batch baked using suitable weighing equipment and make and keep a record of these checks, including a record of what you do if any loaves fail the checks.
What is a batch?
Generally this is all bread of the same type and nominal weight baked at the same time. The temperature, humidity, tin type and length of time in the oven can all affect the final weight.
How many loaves should I check?
There is no fixed number. A good starting point is 10-20%. However for smaller batches it is recommended that at least 3 loaves (or all the loaves baked) are checked. This should include a visual check as loaves which appear smaller or are slightly over baked are more likely to be underweight and should be targeted for checking.
If any of the loaves checked are underweight then you will need to check more loaves or even the whole batch to eliminate underweight loaves.
What weight should I expect when I check the bread?
Small loaves should be 400g and large loaves 800g when sold. Hot bread will weigh more than cooled bread and will continue to lose weight over time with progressive moisture loss. Most bakers find that the target weight for hot bread should be 420-430g for small loaves and 830-840g for large loaves. If you check bread when it is warm a smaller allowance may be appropriate. Your records should indicate if you checked the bread hot or cold. If you slice the bread at the request of the customer no further allowance is required. However if you slice and bag the bread in advance then you will also need to allow for loss in weight through slicing.
Loaves weighing less than 376g/770g must not be sold.
When carrying out a full check on batches of 100 loaves or less up to 5% of loaves may be between 376 and 388g/770 and 785g. However you will need to ensure that the average weight of all the loaves in the batch is at least 400g/800g. If you are making batches of more than 100 loaves this percentage will change. Please contact this Service for further details.
What is suitable equipment?
This will be a weighing machine which is either UK 'stamped' or EC 'verified'.
For checking 400g loaves of bread a digital indicating scale should ideally have 2g divisions. Similarly other types of weighing machines should be capable of determining the weight to within 2g. If your weighing equipment can only weigh to within 5g, this can still be used. However you will have to adjust your target loaf weight upwards by 5g to allow for the different scale indication.
How long do I need to keep the records?
The minimum period for keeping records is the shelf life of the product. However, we would advise you keep the records for at least 6 months in order to be able to demonstrate 'due diligence' in the event of any problems occurring.
Do I have to make records?
If you are a 'small/craft baker' then the Regulations provide that you may apply to the local Chief Inspector of Weights and Measures for an exemption from making and keeping records. You will however still have to carry out checks on finished bread using suitable equipment.
Generally to be eligible for an exemption you will have to be making bread by a predominantly non-automated process in small batches and to be selling most of your bread from your own premises. You will also need to be able to demonstrate that you do carry out checks and that your checks ensure that the bread you sell is the correct weight.
I only finish off part baked loaves do I still have to do checks and keep records?
If you do not make bread from raw materials but only finish the baking of part baked loaves then as an alternative you may elect to apply the minimum weight system. If you choose this option you will need to ensure that each loaf weighs at least 400g /800g at the time of sale.
To ensure this you will need to be satisfied that the part baked loaves are sufficiently heavy before baking off and that the baking off process is under control. You do not have to carry out any checks or make records. However, it is recommended that you carry out some checks on finished loaves to confirm that you can rely on the process and to be able to establish a due diligence defence in the event of any problems.
If you choose this option then you need to notify your local Weights and Measures Authority.
Reviewed November 2010
B/wei/080/003 June 2006