The National Measurement Institute has released the findings of an audit of 35,000 pre-packaged grocery items. The 2013-14 survey found that 14 per cent of the items lacked the appropriate measurement law labelling.

Items were selected at random and inspected for compliant and accurate measurement marking including – weight, unit price and overall cost. The labelling had to appear in accordance with the specified format, position and packer identification codes.

Overall, the worst offenders were found among the seafood and beverages section; with a staggering 28 per cent of items in each category found to contain faulty or misleading labelling.

Bakery and smallgoods followed with 17 per cent of the items displaying inaccurate or incorrect labelling. Wet foods and tinned foods were close on their heals with inaccurate labelling on 16 per cent of the items.

Consumer watchdog Choice has been vocal in its opposition to Australian supermarkets following international trends and moving the product quantity measure to the rear of the pack.

“One of the best ways o work out how much you are getting for your money is to look at the quantity measure,” said Tom Godfrey from Choice. “You don’t need celebrities or cartoon birds to tell you what the best buy is.”

As an example Choice team produced two products of similar packaging size.

“We found although Mission Chips and Doritos look similar, Mission Chips give you an extra 55 grams of corn chips. While their rival load you up with extra air.

“Arnott’s gets in on the act too, whit its White Chocolate Tim Tams; serving up the same pack size and price as its much-loved original Tim Tams, but containing two fewer biscuits.”

Mr Godfrey went on to say, “Unit pricing is important below the shelf so you can compare items. But looking at the packet itself you need to be able to see how much you’re getting. No one wants to open a pack of chips and be greeted with a puff of air.”

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