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Why check prepackages ?

by Eberhard Seiler last modified 2008-02-14 17:27

The necessity to check prepackages with regard to compliance with OIML Recommendation 87 is demonstrated. Possibilities to start such checks, even with very limited equipment, are mentioned.

Control of Prepackages

Some ideas prepared by Eberhard Seiler, Chairman of OIML´s Permanent Working Group on Developing Countries with the aim of encouraging activities.


If you carry out checks of prepackages already it is not necessary to read the following. If not, you will find some ideas why and how to start this activity even with very limited resources.

Why checking prepackages?

Checking the net content of prepackages is one important and continuous task of legal metrology services. These controls are carried out in Germany for more than 30 years and the verification authorities aim at checking the producers once a year. More than 20 000 checks are carried out every year. Although the offences against the relevant regulations decreased during the years the mean value of offences is still around 5%.

The European Union established filling requirements which producers of prepackages must comply with. If they do so they can put an e on their packages which allows them to put their products on the European market. The legal metrology authorities of the packer`s country are responsible for the supervision. Despite all these regulations and checks the loss for the consumer in Europe due to underfilling sums up to many million Euro per year. It is almost certain that losses in countries without any control of the net content are even higher and should be a challenge for the legal metrology services.

What can be done?

What can be done if there are no legal requirements for prepackages in force? Does it mean that nothing can be done? I don´t share this opinion. Checks can be carried out without regulations in force but of course without legal consequences. The OIML Recommendation 87 Net content in packages can be used for the checks. The results obtained will reflect the market situation. They should be used as arguments in discussions with the responsible ministry for drafting the necessary national regulations. But what can be done if there is no equipment? Of course, this will be a handicap but here is my proposal for a first survey with simple and cheap measuring instruments: Since many prepackages are filled by volume the checks require standard graduated glass flasks (R 43) or graduated glass cylinders. If they are not among the measuring instruments of the legal metrology service they can be purchased for a small amount of money. If there is no specialized shop for such measuring instruments they may be available at shops for hospital equipment. It is recommended to set priorities for the checks to be carried out. Products which are needed for the daily life and which are fairly expensive should be chosen such as edible oil or milk products. Results obtained in Germany show significantly higher offences for these products than the mean of 5%, namely 13.5% respectively 10.8% in 2006. One disadvantage of this proposal is the destructive nature of the check, you must open the container and pore out the liquid. Usually, you have to pay for the product. If money is not available you can try to argue with your local producers to see their quality management systems and their measures to guarantee the correct filling. Perhaps you can check their products in their premises on their account. Even if that should not be possible you can do something. Since we are all consumers we have to buy prepackages. Why not using prepackages for private consumption for the first survey? If you measure before you use the foofstuff and if you measure whenever you use the next item you will get information about the degree of filling of this special item and whether you get the mean value of the declared quantity after a sufficient long period of time. Another possibility to start activities is the check of empty containers which can be easily collected and used for this purpose. The containers should carry an information about their nominal volume. There is an OIML Recommendation R 96 Measuring container bottles specifying the necessary requirements. Make the experiment and determine the maximum volume of containers! I am sure you will find some which are smaller than indicated.

Final remarks:

  1. As shown above checks can be carried out even with very little resources. I hope the proposals will encourage you to start activities. If you have comments or questions don´t hesitate to contact me.
  2. It would be of interest to learn about your experience. Please let us know your results which you can publish on this website.

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