Bizarre 2/3 pint proposal to go ahead

Despite widespread ridicule, the Government has persisted with the previous Government’s barmy proposal to introduce a 2/3 pint measure for draught beer and cider.  Under the pretence of  “removing unnecessary red tape”, it has actually resisted calls for genuine deregulation.

In October 2008 the National Weights and Measures Laboratory consulted on both fixed package sizes and “specified quantities” for alcoholic drinks in draught.  (We analysed these proposals in an earlier article “BIS sticks with pints of beer (but only on draught)” in November 2009.

Amazingly, the absurd proposal to permit an additional 2/3 pint (379 mL) size of beer glass (a mere 95 mL more than half a pint) still appears in the proposals – which apparently are now going to be enacted. This was the BIS Department press release, dated 4 January 2011.

“Regulations banning the sale of different unwrapped bread sizes and small measures of wine are set to be scrapped, Science Minister David Willetts confirmed today.

Current laws restrict bakers to producing loaves of unpackaged bread in set sizes while licensed premises are limited to selling alcoholic drinks in certain measures.

These rules were aimed at protecting consumers but have not taken account of changes to trade practice or consumer demand in recent years. The Government plans to update the rules to introduce greater flexibility and to scrap those that are no longer needed.

Under current regulations unwrapped bread weighing more than 300g must be made up in quantities of 400g or multiples of it.

Wine cannot be sold in measures less than 125ml while beer must be sold in thirds, halves or multiples of half-pints. Fortified wine must be sold in the same quantities as normal wine.

Under the government’s changes, premises will be able to sell wine in measures under 75ml, beers can be sold in ‘schooners’ which are two-thirds of a pint while fortified wine will be sold in smaller sizes of 50ml and 70ml.

Fixed sizes for unwrapped bread will be scrapped so bakers will be free to innovate.

Science Minister David Willetts said:

“This is exactly the sort of unnecessary red tape the government wants to remove.

“No pub or restaurant should break the law by selling a customer a sample of wine.

“We have listened to consumers and businesses. They have called for fixed quantities to be kept but with greater flexibility. That is what this change will deliver.

“We are freeing businesses so they can innovate and create new products to meet the demands of their customers.”

A Statutory Instrument introducing these changes will be laid before Parliament during the coming session.”

Reading through the propaganda, what this all means is that pubs and restaurants will still be denied the “flexibility” to serve a 300 mL or 500 mL measure of beer (unless of course it is sold in and poured out of a bottle).  So much for “freeing businesses to innovate”.

The proposal to allow “sampling” of wine below a de minimis level of 75 mL, is welcome – but why didn’t they extend that to beer (as UKMA advocated in its submission to the consultation)?

Above all, why do we need “specified quantities” at all (provided that the quantity and alcoholic strength are stated and the unit price (per litre) is quoted)?  (The excuse offered is that without fixed imperial sizes for beer, drinkers would not be able to calculate their alcohol intake  – although of course metric units are alright for wine and whisky.  In reality, the arithmetic is much easier with rounded metric quantities than with imperial units).

With regard to unwrapped bread, UKMA argued that if it is deregulated, it should be treated in the same way as any other “loose goods” – that is, the loaf should be weighed at the point of sale and the price calculated from the unit price (per kilogram).  There is no mention of this in the BIS press release, so we await the details.

There is no logic, consistency or intellectual integrity to the proposals.  Perhaps when they  come before Parliament as a draft statutory instrument, a public spirited MP or peer will object, so that they will have to be properly debated and the Government forced to try to defend its indefensible position.

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25 Responses to Bizarre 2/3 pint proposal to go ahead

  1. Michduncg says:

    Today, the 'Daily Mirror' was bemoaning the death knell of the traditional pint, to be replaced by a 400ml Aussie measure, in a bid to cut down on binge drinking. I was, naturally, quite excited at the prospect of a Metric measure at last being available for draught drinks.

    But now you're telling me that it's 2/3 of a pint - is it really that, or is it actually going to be 400 ml?

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  2. M says:

    I notice that in the Independent article, "Pubs clear to server(sic) smaller measures",

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/pubs-clear-to-server-smaller-measures-2175896.html

    Jonathan Mail, Camra’s head of public affairs, is quoted as saying that "having too large measures (1 pint and 2/3 pint) might also lead to people having greater difficulty keeping track of the number of units of alcohol they had drunk".

    Indeed! So given that 1 UK unit of alcohol = 10 mL of pure alcohol, why not serve beer in simple multiples of 100 mL and keep the maths simple?

    i.e. Take the multiple of 100 mL, multiply by the %ABV, then divide by 10

    e.g.
    For 500 mL of 4% abv beer: 5 x 4 = 20 mL alcohol = 2.0 units
    For 400 mL of 4% abv beer: 4 x 4 = 16 mL alcohol = 1.6 units
    For 300 mL of 4% abv beer: 3 x 4 = 12 mL alcohol = 1.2 units

    Given the complexity of the calculations in imperial amounts, it is not surprising that most people never bother to keep track of the "units" that they have drunk. Many people would struggle if asked to add 1/2 to 2/3, let alone knowing the mL equivalents of imperial beer measures.

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  3. John Steele says:

    It's a test. If you're not sober enough to multiply by 568 mL/pint in your head, you've had enough.
    (That would reduce excessive drinking)

    The US does not regulate serving sizes in this manner, but it has the same nonsense in net contents of alcoholic beverage containers. Wine and spirits MUST be in metric size bottles, and beer MUSTN'T. (Actually on beer, the Customary is mandatory, and metric is tolerated as supplemental, but rarely shown.) This makes it MUCH more complicated to compare amount of alcohol in different beverages.

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  4. Ken Cooper says:

    Science Minister David Willetts said:
    “This is exactly the sort of unnecessary red tape the government wants to remove.
    “No pub or restaurant should break the law by selling a customer a sample of wine.

    Reply:
    Of course, (Conservative) minister David Willetts fails to mention that the current prescribed wine measures were introduced by a previous Conservative government. The piecemeal reforms to Weights and Measures law (by both Labour & the Conservatives) have left us in the current confused mess.

    UKMA said:
    The proposal to allow “sampling” of wine below a de minimis level of 75 mL, is welcome – but why didn’t they extend that to beer (as UKMA advocated in its submission to the consultation)?

    Reply:
    As well as beer, I am aware that suggestions were made to also extend “sampling” measures to whisky tasting events. These suggestions also appear to have fallen on deaf ears

    UKMA said:
    Above all, why do we need “specified quantities” at all (provided that the quantity and alcoholic strength are stated and the unit price (per litre) is quoted)?

    Reply:
    We need specified quantities for exactly the same reason as we needed them when they were introduced in 1963. At that time, measures as small as 1/7 gill (approx. 20 ml) were appearing in London pubs and different measures were used in the same pub for different spirits.
    Do UKMA really want to see price boards along the lines of:

    Gin 35ml 37.5%ABV £2.50 (£71.43/litre)
    Rum 28.4millilitres (1 fluid ounce) 35%ABV £2.30 (£80.99/litre)
    Vodka 20ml 40%ABV £2.00 (£100/litre)
    Whisky 35.5millilitres (quarter-gill) 43%ABV £3.00 (£84.51/litre)

    Such a price-board would be totally legal under what UKMA propose above (with a couple of unnecessary (but currently legal) supplementary indications thrown in!)

    UKMA said:
    With regard to unwrapped bread, UKMA argued that if it is deregulated, it should be treated in the same way as any other “loose goods” – that is, the loaf should be weighed at the point of sale and the price calculated from the unit price (per kilogram). There is no mention of this in the BIS press release, so we await the details.

    Reply:
    The UKMA proposal would have the (surely unintended) consequence of effectively banning the sale of unwrapped bread from any shop without a scale. [So some shops would have to buy a scale - so what? - Editor]

    My understanding of the proposed new regime is that 400 g and 800 g loaves will still be allowed to be displayed without any labeling (apart from price). If the bread is baked to any other nominal weight, the price and weight will have to be displayed.

    Personally, I can’t see this working in practice.

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  5. Erithacus says:

    @ Ken Cooper

    You wrote:

    "We need specified quantities for exactly the same reason as we needed them when they were introduced in 1963. At that time, measures as small as 1/7 gill (approx. 20 ml) were appearing in London pubs and different measures were used in the same pub for different spirits.
    Do UKMA really want to see price boards along the lines of:

    Gin 35ml 37.5%ABV £2.50 (£71.43/litre)
    Rum 28.4millilitres (1 fluid ounce) 35%ABV £2.30 (£80.99/litre)
    Vodka 20ml 40%ABV £2.00 (£100/litre)
    Whisky 35.5millilitres (quarter-gill) 43%ABV £3.00 (£84.51/litre)

    Such a price-board would be totally legal under what UKMA propose above (with a couple of unnecessary (but currently legal) supplementary indications thrown in!)"

    I don't see anything wrong in principle with the display in the example you give. It's quite an eye opener and is comparable with the nutrition information that already appears on packaged goods, including drink cans and bottles (and the unit price on shelf labels). Of course you have deliberately made it complicated in order to make it appear ridiculous, but in practice pubs are unlikely to antagonise customers in this way.

    (BTW if your prices per litre are anywhere near realistic, I think I shall continue to buy whisky in the supermarket and drink it at home! Perhaps that's why pubs don't like the idea!)

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  6. M says:

    Where else in the world would a Science Minister introduce a new imperial measure, and outlaw metric measures for draft beer in the 21st Century?

    What kind of message does this give young people at school, who use only metric units in science lessons?

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  7. philh says:

    If the government were to adopt UKMA recommendations on price/L they would probably allow price/100 mL for spirits in a similar vein to say price/100 g for fresh food stuffs typically sold in small quantities.

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  8. philh says:

    On the subject of %ABV and units of alcohol I would like to re-iterate what I've said elsewhere.

    I see no reason why alcohol content should not be treated the same as other nutritional information, i.e. amount in mL per 100 mL No one has seen the need for special units for such things as salt, fat and sugar (given in grams per 100 g etc) so why do it for alcohol?

    The advice to those who drink the stuff regularly should be no more than 30 mL per day for men and 20 mL for women but with at least 2 days a week alcohol free. If you cannot stick to that then give it up completely! (I did).

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  9. Thomas says:

    How many MP's understand how bizarre this is?
    Is your MP one who thinks Science Minister David Willetts is correct or simply crazy to come up with these proposals?
    From the article: "Perhaps when they come before Parliament as a draft statutory instrument, a public spirited MP or peer will object, so that they will have to be properly debated and the Government forced to try to defend its indefensible position."
    Will your MP make the effort to object to this?
    Links that may help you find out some answers:
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com
    http://www.writetothem.com

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  10. Ken Cooper says:

    The Editor made the point “So some shops would have to buy a scale - so what?” in reply to my objection to the UKMA proposals re weighing of unwrapped bread.

    In these financially austere times, why should shops that have been selling 400g unwrapped loaves for years be forced to spend upwards of £200 for a legal-for-trade scale to continue to sell the same 400g loaves? [Obviously, in order to protect consumers! Since the density of bread is variable, the only way to assess its quantity is by weighing it. If you remove "specified quantities" what other protection is there against scams? - Editor]

    Erithacus said: “I don’t see anything wrong in principle with the display in the example you give. It’s quite an eye opener and is comparable with the nutrition information that already appears on packaged goods, including drink cans and bottles (and the unit price on shelf labels)."

    But the purchase of drink in a pub is more analogous with buying a meal in a restaurant, or a burger from a burger van etc – it is something purchased for immediate consumption. There are no requirements to give nutrition information in those circumstances. [Perhaps there should be. The Food Standards Agency is (or was) trying to get restaurants to co-operate in just such a voluntary scheme - Editor] Why extend this regime to a pub, where, to be honest, hardly anyone currently looks at the price-board except when a round seems to be very expensive. [Perhaps because they are difficult to see? - Editor]

    “Of course you have deliberately made it complicated in order to make it appear ridiculous"

    I would deny the accusation of making it complicated – I have given exactly the information requested by UKMA, plus the actual price per measure plus (as a joke) a couple of unnecessary imperial equivalents that some traders use. A real price-board would be far more complicated than the small extract I have given – how many pubs only sell 4 products?

    ”but in practice pubs are unlikely to antagonise customers in this way.”

    Believe me – they want to be able to vary measures to appear to give better value for money. Lots of pubs already use 35ml for gin, rum, vodka & whisky, but other non-prescribed spirits are on (smaller) unstamped optics.

    “(BTW if your prices per litre are anywhere near realistic, I think I shall continue to buy whisky in the supermarket and drink it at home! Perhaps that’s why pubs don’t like the idea!)”

    In my local pubs, 35ml spirit measures range from approx. £2 - £4 (cheap vodka – very good malt). That works out at £57.14/litre - £114.29/litre. However, I’m aware of one pub that has a particularly rare Bowmore Black malt at £650/35ml. That works out to £18571.43/litre!

    Phil said: “If the government were to adopt UKMA recommendations on price/L they would probably allow price/100 mL for spirits in a similar vein to say price/100 g for fresh food stuffs typically sold in small quantities.”

    Within the same table of exemptions, however, the relevant unit for wine is defined as price/75cl and for coal as price/50kg (Schedule 1, Price Marking Order 2004). Unit prices do not necessarily have to relate to 10’s, 100’s 0r 1000’s of g/ml.
    If you accept the argument for the retention of prescribed spirit quantities, I see no objection to the continuation of the current effective unit price per 25ml/35ml. As I don’t buy 100ml of whisky at a time, I see no point in using price/100ml. [Surely, the point is that it enables you to make the comparison with prices in the supermarket or off-licence]

    Thomas said ” Is your MP one who thinks Science Minister David Willetts is correct or simply crazy to come up with these proposals?”

    I believe that the proposals are exactly the same as these put forward by the last Labour government, but ran out of time due to the election. As such, I cannot see them not being enacted.

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  11. Peter Griffin says:

    The trouble with imperial is that you can't divide by 3.

    "Barman, I'll have a 0.666666 recurring!"

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  12. A says:

    It should be noted that this so called science minister has no educational background in science. I have never understood why politicians are given ministerial positions in which they have no background knowledge of. I think this fact explains a lot about all of the governments which have been in power in Britain.

    I think it is completely contradicatory and hypocritical that the current government is claiming that it is attempting to remove beauracracy yet all it is doing is adding more nonsense to it. Why can't they work with the drinks industry to establish standards for bottled/canned products and have an unambiguous and universal pricing regime for draught products? Effectively, the government hasn't changed anything and is claiming that nothing is something. Why does there need to be set limits for the volume of drinks? Why can't the government propose that the drinks to be sold in multiples of 100 mL with pricing at either £/100 mL and have alcohol quantities in mL?

    Ken Cooper - it appears that you are trying to find a problem when there isn't one in regards to bread. Shop owners would see the need to buy scales if they didn't have them already if the weight of bread sold was dergulated because how else are they going to price them? It's bit of a non-issue to begin with.

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  13. Mark says:

    Adding a 2/3 pint measure is hardly introducing "greater flexibility" or "freeing businesses so they can innovate".

    What use is that to a landlord that wants to stage a Belgian Beer Night with authentic Belgian 500 mL glasses, or a German Oktoberfest Week with genuine 1-litre steins? or to the many different continental-themed bars that would dearly love to be able to use appropriate glasses.

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  14. Ken Cooper says:

    Editor said: Since the density of bread is variable, the only way to assess its quantity is by weighing it. If you remove "specified quantities" what other protection is there against scams?

    Reply: The bread is currently weighed by the manufacturer, not the retailer. The 400g half-loaf and the 800g loaf have been established sizes for over 20 years.

    The new proposed system will allow retailers selling the established sizes to continue to sell bread in those sizes with no weight-marking requirements, and will only require weight marking for novel new sizes. Last time I checked, a combined weight & price ticket was a lot cheaper than a brand-new set of scales!

    [But if retailers want to sell "novel new sizes", what guarantee does the consumer have if the loaves are not weighed in front of the customer? I cannot understand your objection to bread shops being required to observe the same rules as other food retailers. It would, for example, allow bread shops to cut a loaf if the customer only wants half (or any other fraction) of it, or the customer wants to buy a non-standard quantity of bread rolls - just as happens in some other European countries. Can't we ever change anything in this country? The cost of new scales is trivial in relation to the total cost of running a shop. - Editor]

    A said: It appears that you are trying to find a problem when there isn’t one in regards to bread. Shop owners would see the need to buy scales if they didn’t have them already if the weight of bread sold was deregulated because how else are they going to price them?

    Alternatively, the shop owner might think "I'm not going to spend over £200 on a new set of scales. I'll just stop selling the nice unwrapped wholemeal bread from my local small baker, and sell the mass-produced stuff from the huge Hovis factory instead." [in which case the shopkeeper will lose his/her customers to the supermarket - Editor]

    Editor said: Perhaps there should be. The Food Standards Agency is (or was) trying to get restaurants to co-operate in just such a voluntary scheme

    As far as I'm aware, non-chain restaurants hated the idea of the voluntary scheme and refused to participate. The scheme was only embraced by the chains like McDonalds. I know where I would prefer to eat.........

    [That's why it needs to be mandatory! - Editor]

    Editor said: Surely, the point is that it enables you to make the comparison with prices in the supermarket or off-licence

    But supermarkets and off-licences don't sell single drams of whisky in convivial surroundings! The pub experience is based on far more than price. This follows on from my point that people don't really look at prices in pubs unless they feel they are being ripped off.

    [They are still entitled to know what they are really paying for the alleged conviviality - Editor]

    Peter Griffin said: The trouble with imperial is that you can’t divide by 3.

    All the BWMA supporters will be asking for "80 "sixth-gills" of beer please"!!!!!!!!!

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  15. Peter Griffin says:

    @Ken Cooper
    I've not heard of a "sixth-gill" before. Is it something to do with drinking like a fish?

    Assuming that your 80 x 1/6 gill = 2/3 pint, then it would follow that 2/3 pint = 13.3333 recurring gills (not much more useful than 0.666666 recurring pints).

    Imperial volumes less than 1 pint are obviously very tricky. I guess it must be easier dealing with volumes greater than 1 pint - So, how many pints (or gills) are there in a cubic foot?

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  16. John Steele says:

    Is not a gill 1/4 pint, so a one-sixth gill would be 1/24 pt, and 80 of them would be 3.333... pt.
    I believe 8 one-sixth gills may have been meant, or 16 for 2/3 pint.

    As for pints in a cubic foot, I can only answer for American pints (or gallons). Our gallon is 231 in³, a pint 1/8 that so 1728 * 8 / 231 = 59 and 195/231 pints in a cubic foot.

    Bah, I can do Imperial. A cubic foot is 28.316 846 592 L, and an Imp. pint 0.568 261 25 L. I get 49. 830 684 pt.

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  17. philh says:

    Re: “Barman, I’ll have a 0.666666 recurring!”

    Strickly speaking the correct phase would be '0.6 recurring' there is no need for all those sixes, it is only the digit 6 that recurs.

    As another example consider the fraction 1/7 which when expressed as a decimal is 0.142857 recurring (i.e. 0.142587142587142587 ...).

    There are also cases where only some digits recur e.g. 1/12 = 0.083 where only the digit 3 recurs (i.e. 0.08333 ...) The actual convention is to use a bar symbol over the digits that recurs which I cannot reproduce here; perhaps it could be written 0.08(3) recurring or something like that.

    Anyway a general rule is that any fraction (reduced to lowest terms) with a denominator that has prime factors other than 2 or 5 will recur when written as a decimal. For example 1/2, 1/5, 1/4, 1/8, 1/25, etc will not recur whereas 1/3, 1/6, 1/7, 1/9, 1/11 etc will recur.

    Hope that's useful.

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  18. David Brown says:

    This would all be a jolly jape if it was not for the fact that alcohol is the most dangerous and destructive product that can be bought legally in the UK. Why are the MPs not taking it seriously?
    Metrication of draft beer measures has 3 very compelling advantages:
    1. It reduces the standard measure from 568 ml to 500 ml. A reduction of almost 12%
    2. It makes it far easier to calculate how much alcohol (or "units" of alcohol) you are drinking, allowing more responsible drinking
    3. It gives more options for smaller measures - 200 ml; 250 ml; 330 ml without losing advantage 2 above.

    Compared with this, the 2/3 pint (377 ml) measure simply gives a larger option for those who would normally drink 1/2 pints (284 ml), without delivering any of the advantages of metrication. This is simply irresponsible government!

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  19. Ken Cooper says:

    The Editor said: But if retailers want to sell "novel new sizes", what guarantee does the consumer have if the loaves are not weighed in front of the customer?

    Reply: He has exactly the same guarantee as he has when he picks up a pre-packed loaf with the weight marked on the packaging. The only difference will be that the weight is marked on a label or shelf-edge talker rather than on the packaging.

    However, as the “novel new sizes” have been introduced in response to demand from the large supermarket chains (so they can advertise offers like “25% extra free” on 1 kg loaves), I don’t see novel unwrapped sizes appearing any time soon. The small bakers I’ve spoken to recently have no plans to move away from the standard 400 g & 800 g loaves that they have been producing since bread sizes were metricated in the mid 1980’s

    The editor also said “I cannot understand your objection to bread shops being required to observe the same rules as other food retailers. It would, for example, allow bread shops to cut a loaf if the customer only wants half (or any other fraction) of it, or the customer wants to buy a non-standard quantity of bread rolls - just as happens in some other European countries. Can't we ever change anything in this country? The cost of new scales is trivial in relation to the total cost of running a shop.”

    There will be absolutely nothing that would prevent a trader from doing as the Ed. suggests if they felt that this was what their customers wanted. But why have a blanket policy which would force traders that are selling a product (which has been already been sold in metric amounts for 25 years!) to buy new scales & change their selling method?

    In addition, rolls are currently sold by number, not weight. My local shop will sell me any number of loose rolls that I ask for. I fail to see why the Ed. is unable to buy “non-standard quantities”

    With regard to John Steele’s correction of my figures, I had stupidly worked out my figures by reference to 1/6 of a fluid ounce instead of 1/6 gill. It just shows how easy it is to make silly mistakes when using outdated, unfamiliar measures that no-one uses any more!

    @ Peter Griffin
    It would depend on the defined number of cubic inches in a gallon.

    Are you referring to the Winchester corn gallon of 272.25 cubic inches, the Winchester liquid gallon of 268•8 cubic inches, a wine gallon of 231 cubic inches, or an ale gallon of 282 cubic inches?

    Or, shall we use the original 1824 definition of the Imperial Gallon (277.274 cubic inches) or the corrected more accurate determination from 1932 (277.421 cubic inches)?

    In 1932, there would have been exactly 49.83040216854528 pints in a cubic foot. Simple!

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  20. John Steele says:

    I took on Ken's challenge of sixth-gills simply as a challenge. However, I should have pointed out that elimination of standard sizes does NOT require toleration of such nonsense in the market place. The US has VERY few mandated standard sizes, and none on individual servings of intoxicating beverage (but we do on packaged). However our packaging laws (FPLA and UPLR) are quite prescriptive on which units may be used ("these and no other") and the threshold amounts for switching units. Most food and beverages would fall in the range where the numeric part is 1.00 -999 (max. three figures permitted) and g, kg, mL or L. The rules for the Customary specification of net content are a bit different, but similar in concept. No "strange" units are permitted; we do not allow the use of the centiliter, for example, and wouldn't allow gills. Given any amount, the rules determine how the amount must be expressed

    You don't need standard sizes to control the units used in the marketplace.

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  21. Ken Cooper says:

    In response to John Steele, I should point out that the use (in the UK) of fractions of a gill for gin, rum, vodka and whisky was common before 1963 and compulsory during the period from 1963 to 1994. During that period, it would actually have been illegal to use fluid ounces/pints (or litres/millilitres) to sell individual spirit measures in licensed premises.

    This, of course, is despite the fact that my local at that time sold in 1/5 gill quantities (equivalent to 1 (UK) fluid ounce), but was not legally allowed to call them 1 fl.oz. measures.

    As usual, imperial measurement made very little sense.

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  22. Peter Barber says:

    Hmmm. For once I disagree (in part) with the stance of the UKMA.

    If the quantities which may be dispensed are totally deregulated, customers will be vulnerable to unscrupulous pricing practices. The point is that people don't go to the pub for a maths lesson or with price comparison lists in hand; they go there to drink and have a good time. Given the British lack of ability in mental arithmetic and maths in general (even when sober), it will be far too easy for unscrupulous publicans to confuse drinkers with odd drink sizes and thereby overcharge. In addition, it will become more difficult to compare prices between establishments when you can't even remember how many millilitres each one serves of particular drinks.
    [Peter Barber has misunderstood UKMA's position. If the "unit price" (which means the "price per litre") is given, then no mental arithmetic is required. It is all done for you, so comparison with other pubs will be much easier. Of course, UK Governments, retailers and consumer groups have all completely failed to explain and publicise the concept of "unit pricing" - but that is another story - Editor].

    In my opinion, deregulation of drink sizes (no!) is completely separate from the question of whether draught beers, bar wines and spirits etc. should be measured in metric (yes!).

    I don't have such a problem with deregulation of bread sizes, since most people aren't pissed out of their skulls when they go to the baker's. On the other hand, that doesn't help traders selling bread at markets, where windy conditions or non-level surfaces may make otherwise legal-for-trade scales unreliable...

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  23. M says:

    Heineken are investing £3M in this weird new 379 mL glass size:

    http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2011/08/heineken-embraces-the-schooner/

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/8708091/Heineken-unveils-two-thirds-schooner-pints.html

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/city-news/2011/08/18/pubs-to-sell-beer-by-the-schooner-115875-23351860/

    Of course, they would probably have been able to get their new glasses cheaper if the new regulations allowed them to use standard 400 mL ones, like those already used in other countries.

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  24. Ronnie Cohen says:

    This proposal does nothing to remove the anomaly where publicans can sell one-third or half a litre of cider or beer as long as it is poured out of a bottle or can but are prohibited from selling the same quantity of cider or beer when it comes out of a tap. The use of metric for beer bottles and cans and imperial for draught beer obscures price transparency (making it hard to compare prices without a calculator). The use of pints for draught beer and cider makes it awkward to calculate alcohol units, which are based on metric units.

    The solution to this problem would be to allow publicans to serve draught beer and cider in litres (as they do all over Europe and at the Oktoberfest beer festival). Perhaps they can then abolish imperial pints for serving draught beer and cider. Given that the imperial pint is 568 ml and the US liquid pint is slightly less than half a litre, why not introduce a new metric pint of exactly 500 ml? Then pubs can serve glasses of half a litre of beer and call it a pint. So there would be no need to use two systems of volume measurement for serving alcohol.

    Just remember that the current imperial pint is no more special than US dry pints, US liquid pints or any of the historical pints that were used before the 1824 Weights and Measures Act. The imperial pint is based on the standard imperial gallon, which was introduced in 1824 (8 pints = 1 gallon). That gallon was originally defined as a measure of volume under a set of arbitrary conditions and is now defined as exactly 4.54609 litres. Lest anyone think that there is something special about the imperial pint, just remember that it is no more special than any other size of drink.

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  25. BrianAC says:

    Just out of interest, and devilment, I asked for 1/2 L of beer with my pub meal last week. Without any comment I got a lined pint glass, brim full with the head flushed off.
    I guess that is one reason the pub is always brim full too. The establishment will sell what the market demands, in this case good measure brings in good customers.

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