Saturday, March 20, 2010The language of labels

E ... It's in the bag!

© L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

In France, many people think that the "e" printed close to the volume/weight figure means "environ" (circa, in English). Indeed, it means exactly the opposite. Nevertheless, this "e" shall not be understood to the gram … Some explanations by Bénédicte Lefranc, a controller in the French General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF, as per its French acronym).

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Based on the paper given by Bénédicte Lefranc, DGCCRF Controller, in the 10th Meeting on Regulation organized by Cosmed association, held in Marseille on 18 March 2010.

Cosmetics are as food: they shall let the consumer know how much he has to pay for which quantity. As per the European regulation, the nominal content at the time of packaging, given by weight or by volume, shall be displayed on the packaging. This lets the consumer know how much he buys, to the gram, to the millilitre … in principle.

The acceptable error rule

In fact, when the measurement is carried out, things are not that simple. A tolerance is allowed, and endorsed by the regulation. In plain English, one may buy a bit less than what is printed on the label, for the same price (would you have bet it could be another way?), in complete compliance with the law.

To comply with the law, two criteria are to be met:
• The average rule: for a given batch number, the true content shall not be, in average, lower than the nominal content, as printed on labels. A kind of "a bit more, a bit less, as far as the …

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