Food retailers have a legal responsibility to accurately describe what they are selling. It is down to each retailer to clearly display contents for allergen purposes – I’ll be writing more about this in a future blog – but another critical component is the weight. This needs to be clearly displayed too, and you need to accurately calculate the weight of what you’re selling. No one needs Trading Standards knocking on the door for the wrong reasons, do they?
We’re frequently asked for advice, and the sentence normally starts like this:
“What size container do I need for 250g of olives? They should go in a 250ml Deli Pot, right?”
This is a very tricky question to answer – Olives have a different weight to Pesto or Flour for example, so you need to get your head around mass and volume. Here’s what I mean. The following ingredients are all in a 180ml Tamper Evident Container. If the container was filled with water, it would weigh 180g. (1ml of cold water weighs 1gram)
- Green Pesto – 189g
- Dried Coffee – 55g
- Pitted Green Olives – 89g
- Dry Demi Glace – 118g
- Granulated Sugar – 170g
- Un-cooked White Rice – 160g
- Granola – 89g
- Bombay Mix – 71g
They all fill the same 180ml Tamper Evident Container so take up the same amount of space, but have massively different weights.
Before you label up your food, be absolutely sure of the quantity you are selling as it needs to be clearly displayed on the label. If you know how much of something you want to sell in terms of ladles / scoops but can’t work out what to put it in, a set of digital scales and ANY container are your new best friends. No need to hunt around for that jug you know is in the kitchen somewhere – it’s probably got beans in it….
I’ll be covering this in depth with photos in the very near future, but in a nutshell:
- Weigh the empty container you have to hand – it can be a Mug, Pint Glass, Bowl, Bottle, lined, unlined, it really doesn’t matter. It just needs to be big enough to hold a portion of your food.
- Put one portion of food in the container, and level it off as best you can.
- Mark the fill line on the outside of the container and empty it out. Give it a quick clean.
- Fill the container with water to your fill line, and weigh it.
- Subtract the initial weight of the container and the figure left is the volume your portion of food takes in millilitres. As 1ml of water weighs 1g, you now know the capacity of the container you need. If the water weighs 500g, your container needs to have a capacity of at least 500ml. Easy!
“I used a Pyrex jug – that’s got measure lines on it. Will that do?”
Technically, yes, however we prefer to measure liquids with a CE Stamped Glass. This range of glasses have been passed by weights & measures for the licenced trade, and that’s good enough for us. There isn’t really anything more accurate out there.
A lot of kitchen work revolves around adapting to change and thinking on your feet (there are other words and phrases, probably un-printable here) but this is something you can do when you get a spare moment to get yourself ahead of the game and keep yourself legal.