I’m not in the habit of weighing my shopping after I buy it, and I’m sure that’s the case for most people. But maybe I should start – if our snapshot sample of supermarket smoked salmon is anything to go by…
Getting 10% off my shopping would normally be something I’d welcome. But I got a reduction of a less desirable kind when I bought a pack of smoked salmon from Tesco that weighed almost 10% less than it said on the pack.
This pack was one of 32 we bought and weighed from Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco when researching the weight of smoked salmon. The majority of packs bought from each supermarket were underweight, with the Tesco pack being the most extreme example.
Almost 80% packs were underweight
I was prompted to go trawling through supermarkets for salmon after a tip-off from Which? member Loz Farmer. He told us that during the past two years he’d bought four packs of Sainsbury’s smoked salmon and found them to be around 10% short when he’d weighed them.
When we bought our own samples, 25 of the 32 – nearly four out of five – weighed less than the amount stated on the packs. The other seven packs weighed more.
The ‘200g’ pack of Tesco Everyday Value Smoked Salmon actually contained 181.5g when we weighed it, meaning it was underweight by just over 9%. We believe this breaks Trading Standards rules.
Where do you draw the line?
Shops have to follow various rules about how much their products are allowed to stray from the weight stated on the pack. The most straightforward one is that no single pack can be underweight by a certain amount. How much depends on how big the pack is – smaller packs are given less margin for error – but for products between 100-200g, like most packs of smoked salmon, it’s 9%, so the Tesco salmon was just outside this margin.
When we took our findings to Tesco, it told us that:
‘Our records show that the weight of the products tested conformed to industry standards. It’s not uncommon for some of the oil in smoked salmon to transfer to the packaging while on the shelf.’
But there were other packs we bought that were also underweight but didn’t fall outside of the margin for error, such as a ‘200g’ pack that actually weighed 189g. I’d be pretty annoyed if I found out I was getting short-changed like that on my shopping – but at the same time, it’s impossible to have everything weigh exactly the same down to a single gram, so I can understand that there’s a need for a margin for error.
Have you bought food that weighs less than it should? Do you think the rules on weights are tough enough?