Woolworths, Coles fined for underweight products

Birthday sponge cakes sold at Woolworths and lamb chops prepared at Coles were among thousands of products found to be weighing less than what was promised on packaging, according to the National Measurement Institute.

In 2014-15, Australia’s peak weights and measures body issued 3962 non-compliance notices to traders, up 13 percent on the previous year’s figure. It sent 139 warning letters and imposed 98 fines totalling AUD92,650. Nearly half of the breaches related to underweight or incorrectly labelled packaged products.

For the first time, traders were prosecuted under the National Measurement Act, resulting in four convictions, with two against the supermarket giants. Woolworths was found guilty and fined AUD3000 for selling birthday mock cream sponge cakes, made and packed in-store, with shortfalls of up to 41 percent. Coles was found guilty and hit with an AUD3000 fine for using a weighing instrument not at zero that led to shortfalls of up to 9.4 percent in prepacked lamb chops.

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