The Legal Metrology Act establishes and enforces standards and regulations of weights & measurements or any aspects that are incidental to the same. Although there are various rules mentioned under the act, one of the major parts of the act is about packaged commodities.
For maintenance of fair trade practices and protection of consumers’ rights, the act defines rules regarding packaging of goods. It also outlines standards regarding weight & measurements of packaged goods. What declaration should be made on the packaging and how is also mentioned in the act. The act falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Legal Metrology which comes under the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Why is Legal Metrology important for Packaged Goods?
The question that will arise in your mind is – why one needs to adhere to the Legal Metrology Act in the first place? Many commodities such as vegetables, flour from chakki are manufactured, sold, and purchased then why do packaged goods require the legal metrology certificate?
Unpacked goods do not need to fall under Legal Metrology rules as most often the weighing is done before the consumer. The manufacturer’s or seller’s identity is also known to the buyer and sometimes the product is manufactured in front of a buyer like flour in chakki.
In case of packed goods, the manufacturer’s identity is not known. The manufacturer might be beyond the reach of the buyer. There are many middlemen between the manufacturer and the final consumer. It is difficult to find the actual person responsible for altercations in quantity and quality. Also, the freshness and safety of the packed goods are unknown.
The legal metrology act ensures that the end consumer has all the relevant information about packaged goods such as expiry date, weight, price so that they can make buying decisions with clarity.
Which Packaged Goods are covered under the rules?
The basic provisions are applicable to all packaged goods. However, certain provisions apply to some goods only. For example, chapter 2 of the Act applies to packaged goods meant for retail sale. This chapter is not applicable to goods meant for institutional and industrial use directly from the manufacturer such as a company buying biscuits in bulk to distribute among employees. Commodities that are more than 25kg or liters in weight (50 for fertilizers & cement) are exempt from retail laws. Many provisions that apply or do not apply to different types of packaged goods as specified under the law.
What is the Mandatory Declaration that needs to be made?
- Manufacturer/Importer/ Packer Details
The name of manufacturing, packaging or importing entity along with the address must be declared on packaged goods. In case the manufacturing and packaging entities are different, the names and address of both must be provided separately. The food products are exempt from this law as they fall under the provision of Food Safety & Security Act.
- The generic name of the commodity that is being sold
- The maximum retail price (inclusive of all taxes) must be declared
- Date of manufacture, packaging or import must be mentioned on the packaging along with viz. month & year. In case the date of manufacturing and packing are different, they must be mentioned separately.
- The date of expiry along with month and year should be mentioned on the product. The shelf life or the time span within which the product is best to use can also be mentioned.
- The quantity of the commodity
- Ingredient/s of the commodity
- Customer service or helpline for customer grievances
What else do you need to know about declarations?
Simply making declarations is not enough, you need to make them in the right manner. The act specifies various rules that mention how and where you should make all declarations depending on the shape and size of your product.
In addition to basic declarations, there are quantity declaration rules covering weight, volume, length, area & number. The act also specifies rules regarding how numbers and numerals should be written and declared. You must also keep in mind rules regarding labels and wholesale packaging.
What will happen if you do not adhere to the rules?
Registration of manufacturers, packers, and importers with the State Controller of Legal Metrology or the Director of Legal Metrology is compulsory. Violation of which will lead to a fine of Rs. 4000. If standard units are not used for the declaration, there will be a fine of Rs.2000/- or 4000/- depending on the case.
Penalties may increase up to Rs.25,000/- for the first offense of non-declaration, Rs.50,000/- for second and can extend up to Rs.100,000 or imprisonment, or both for subsequent offenses. There are many other penalties listed under the act for various violations.
In the end, the Legal Metrology Act covering packaging goods is covered by a vast number of details and is complex. It is difficult for businesses dealing with packaging goods to operate in accordance with the act. A legal metrology consultant has vast knowledge and experience. With the involvement in a wide number of cases, a consultant can help you with compliance and advice you through complex matters.