Angry shoppers slam Coles and Woolworths over common gripe with meat

A number of Coles and Woolworths customers are angry after realising their packaged meat is a different weight than labelled.

A man took to the grocery chain’s Facebook page on Wednesday to complain about his 500g of Woolies lean beef mince weighing 378g.

“By my estimates, your weight estimates are rubbish Woolworths,” he wrote.

Another man who purchased 500g of Woolies beef mince said his meat actually weighed in at 326g.

He filmed himself weighing the mince.

“What a joke,” he can be heard saying.

Woolworths beef mince 500g is seen on a scale weighing 326g.
A customer complained his Woolies beef mince weighed 326g. It had 500g on the label. Source: Facebook

A Coles customer also complained online that her 500g of beef stir fry was actually 471g.

Shoppers on Facebook took aim at Coles and Woolies over the weight discrepancy, saying it’s “not good enough”.

“You need to improve your game. It’s theft. If we fiddled the scales or substituted items on the self serve register you would prosecute us,” one man wrote.

A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the supermarket takes measurement accuracy “very seriously”.

“The measurement instruments used by Coles are tested regularly to ensure they are accurate,” the spokesperson said.

“We also require our suppliers to ensure their products comply with all measurement laws, and we remove products from sale if we find or are advised they are non-compliant.”

Woolworths lean beef mince at 500g is seen weighing 378g.
People have called for supermarkets to provide more accurate weights. Source: Facebook

However, the spokesperson added “household scales are not made to commercial standard and are generally not regularly checked for accuracy”.

“As always, we encourage customers to return any item they’re not happy with to their nearest store for a full refund or replacement,” they said.

A Woolworths spokesperson said the supermarket has asked the customers with complaints for further info so the claims can be investigated.

“All of our pre-packed meat products are checked for their weight on scales certified for trade use,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ve checked the records on recent batches of pre-packed meat products. The average pack weight across these batches was slightly higher than the stated weight.

“If ever our customers are concerned about the weight of a product, we'd encourage them to report it to store management. This not only allows us to issue a refund where required, but also helps ensure we have all the product details we need to investigate further.”

However, not all customers seem to be dealing with underweight meat.

One woman posted a video of herself weighing her 1kg package of beef mince and revealing it weighed three grams more than the label said.

Why products can be underweight

All of the packaged meat pictured in the for-mentioned complaints featured product labels with an “e” next to the weight - for example, “500g e”.

Last week, Yahoo News Australia explored what the “e” actually means next to the weight on supermarket products.

It came after a woman claimed she purchased 500g of mince which actually weighed 262g.

The “e”, also known as the estimated sign or the quantité estimée, is used by countries in the European Union, as well as Australia and South Africa.

Coles beef stir fry (500g) weighs 471g on a scale.
A woman claims her Coles beef stir fry was underweight by more than 20g. Source: Facebook

In Australia, the “e” indicates goods have been packed in accordance with the Average Quantity System (AQS), a spokesman for the National Measurement Institute told Yahoo News Australia.

When items are packaged under the AQS, they have to meet the “tolerable deficiency” making them within the estimated weight by a certain amount.

Under the directive tabled by the IOLM in 1997, packages between 5-50g or millilitres are allowed to be nine per cent off in error - but this margin decreases the larger the product is.

Between 300-500g are only allowed to be three per cent off, meaning for a product tagged “500g e” it can be as much as 15g off its weight.

It basically means, of the examples provided in the Facebook complaints, none of the meat products featured are the appropriate weight as indicated by the AQS.

Yahoo’s readers were asked in a poll if they would be weighing their meat from now on.

Of the more than 3,400 who replied - 91 per cent said yes.

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