Carrier bag advice for Scottish butchers

New advice for Scottish butchers on charging for carrier bags has just been issued by the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association (SFMTA).

The advice, agreed with the Food Standards Agency Scotland and Zero Scotland at the end of January, tells butchers that if a customer is sold raw meat and cooked meat in high density bags, then they should be placed into separate carrier bags, by the butcher or counter assistant, at no extra charge.

It said that, following discussions with the aforementioned organisations, it had concluded that “butchers’ over-enthusiasm to comply with every piece of legislation that comes along has possibly created risk of cross-contamination from raw meat to ready-to-eat foods”, due to the risk of fluid leakage from the bags.

The regulations specify a number of exemptions where there is no requirement to charge for carrier bags. This includes any size used solely to contain exempted items, including unpackaged food, and bags – less than 206mm (width) x 459mm (height including handles) with a maximum gusset of 125mm – used solely to contain packaged uncooked meat or meat products, poultry or poultry products, said the SMFTA.

However, it warned that the exemptions were only valid where the bag was used solely to contain one or more of these listed items. If any doubt existed on which bags could be charged for, it recommended butchers check with their Local Authority.

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