Put All Your Eggs in NMi’s Basket This Easter

Put All Your Eggs in NMi’s Basket This Easter

13 April 2022

Chocolate eggs come in many shapes and sizes. With the Easter holidays fast approaching, almost everyone has a bag of them at home. But as a consumer, how do you know if the weight indicated on the packaging is correct? Well, fear not – NMi (the Netherlands Measurement institute) is here to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

If you buy chocolate eggs in a store that the salesperson weighs, you don’t know exactly how much you will get: the weight depends on what the seller puts in the bag. The chocolate wrappers, for example, are included in the total, which begs the question: “am I getting bang for my buck?”

Food packers, on the other hand, measure to a T. The wrappers are weighed separately from the chocolate, and the packer always adjusts the pre-set total weight higher than that written on the packaging label.

The Dutch Commodities Act outlines rules for the quantity of pre-packaged products. The Act also defines what must appear on the packaging with respect to its weight. Packers can choose whether to put the minimum figure or the e-mark on a bag. If they choose the minimum weight, each package must contain at least as much product as stated on the label. This is easy to inspect in-store. And even one wrong package could potentially lead to a fine.

The other choice is an e-sign (estimated) on the label. Almost all the easter eggs you find in supermarkets carry the e-sign. Packers using the e-sign must ensure that the average amount of chocolate from an entire batch of eggs is at least equal to the weight on the bag. That means there is a chance that your 250g bag of assorted chocolate easter eggs could weigh less than 250 grams. There is also a chance that they could weigh more. But there is a minimum weight in place to protect against significant variations.

NMi guarantees accuracy
This is difficult to check in the store. Fortunately, NMi (the Netherlands Metrology Institute) can help. Before placing the e-mark on bags of chocolate eggs, NMi inspects the packer’s dosing and filling process on behalf of the government. That inspection includes testing the packers’ measuring instruments and reviewing their procedures.

Chocolate eggs are weighed on a machine with as many as 24 weighing trays. Each one holds a random quantity of eggs, and once they reach a pre-set total weight, the eggs fall through a funnel into a bag.

After a bag is filled, the packer checks whether the weight of the chocolate in the bags meets requirements by using manual or automatic weighing scales, which must also comply with the legal standards of the Metrology act. The accuracy of these scales is important: imagine if they showed 250 grams when in fact there was only 247 grams on the scale!? There would be a whole batch containing too little chocolate. Consumers would not be happy bunnies…

Packers can carry out checks via random sampling, and NMi can verify whether they do this enough and whether they use the correct approval and rejection criteria. In addition, packers regularly weigh the bags on an even more accurate scale and count the number of eggs to know how much packaging material (bags and wrappers) to subtract from the gross weight.

If the amount of product on the label is expressed in volume, packers will also measure density. This measurement method needs to be very precise because a small error can have a major impact on product volume.

Once all these procedures are approved by NMi, they are recorded and recognized. From that moment on, the packer is obliged to always pack the eggs in this way. If anything changes in the process, the packer needs to re-apply for approval at NMi.

Peace of mind for consumers
Thanks to the e-mark and NMi, consumers can rest assured that their favourite pre-packaged chocolate eggs are measured without the wrappers and that the weight of the chocolate is correct according to the label. And if you receive one egg too few, the next bag will contain an extra egg. This is all guaranteed and controlled by the packer, according to procedures recognized by NMi.

So, next time you go Easter egg hunting, remember that the chocolate you find has been accurately weighed!

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