Fishy fix on at the scale

Buy­ers charged for ice

Herald Sun - - NEWS - KAREN COLLIER @KarenCol­lierHS

SHOP­PERS buy­ing frozen seafood have been charged for ice water in the pack­ag­ing.

The Seafood Im­porters As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­trala­sia said some sellers had been in­clud­ing ice glaze in the de­clared weight of pack­aged seafood, such as fish fil­lets and prawns.

The as­so­ci­a­tion’s tech­ni­cal ad­viser, Mark Boul­ter, said ice glaze, used as a pro­tec­tive coat­ing to stop seafood dry­ing out, typ­i­cally made up 10 per cent of the to­tal weight of pack­ages.

While some man­u­fac­tur­ers de­clared a net weight ex­clud­ing ice or water, in­dus­try sur­veil­lance had found that oth­ers in­cluded the ice glaze.

Con­cerns about the “ripoff” have been raised with the na­tion’s trade mea­sure­ment reg­u­la­tor, which now plans to crack down on the prac­tice.

Mr Boul­ter said it was un­clear how com­monly it hap­pened but “cer­tainly there was a feel­ing a num­ber of peo­ple were do­ing this, that they were get­ting away with some­thing that didn’t pass the pub test”.

“Busi­nesses that in­clude ice glaze in net weight can eco­nom­i­cally un­der­cut those that don’t. In our view, that’s a ripoff,” he said.

Mr Boul­ter said that, up un­til re­cently, busi­nesses had legally been able to in­clude ice glaze in the net weight if water was listed in the in­gre­di­ents.

Most of the frozen pack­aged seafood that is sold in Aus­tralia is im­ported. Mr Boul­ter said that, since con­cerns had been raised, the Na­tional Mea­sure­ment In­sti­tute had clar­i­fied that the de­clared net weight for frozen pack­aged seafood which was not mar­i­nated, crumbed, or sub­ject to other “value adding” must ex­clude any ex­ter­nal water or ice glaze.

NMI le­gal metrol­ogy gen­eral man­ager Bill Loizides said the reg­u­la­tor had “con­sid­ered the con­cerns ex­pressed by in­dus­try and con­sumer groups and clar­i­fied its in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the reg­u­la­tions re­lat­ing to frozen seafood”.

“To help en­sure that con­sumers are get­ting a fair deal, NMI’s trade mea­sure­ment in­spec­tors will be un­der­tak­ing a pro­gram of in­spec­tions in 2018-19 to check whether weight state­ments on prepack­aged frozen seafood re­fer to the net weight of the seafood, ex­clud­ing any ex­ter­nal water or ice glaze,” he said.

In­spec­tions will cover the whole dis­tri­bu­tion chain, in­clud­ing pack­ers, im­porters, whole­salers and re­tail­ers.

Penal­ties applying to busi­nesses that are caught out in­flat­ing mea­sure­ments in­clude fines of up to $210,000 per in­frac­tion for a com­pany, or fines of up to $42,000 per in­frac­tion for in­di­vid­u­als.

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