From the head on your beer to the fuel in your car, weights and measures affect so many aspects of daily life, writes North Yorkshire Trading Standards officer Natalie Bradley.

Believed to date back to Egyptian times, transactions using weights and measures now account for billions of pounds each year, so it is more important than ever for them to be accurate.

In North Yorkshire, our Trading Standards officers go out and about speaking to local businesses and checking their compliance with weights and measures.

Recently, officers have been visiting market stalls across the county and using calibrated weights to check that the scales being used to determine how much you pay for your goods are accurate. We’re pleased to report that no major issues were found and the picture across North Yorkshire markets looks good.

It’s not just consumer goods that are affected. Every year, large scale equipment is used to determine the cost of raw materials being moved from their source to the next part of production. Our officers recently undertook a project using a regional weighbridge test unit, carrying out checks on weighbridges across North Yorkshire and ensuring a fair trading environment for our businesses.

Young child weighing food in a fruit and veg shop

Weights and measures can hit the headlines, as we’ve seen recently with the subject of the traditional crown stamp on pint glasses following Brexit. Interestingly, crown stamps have always been allowed on pint glasses, even while we were a part of the EU, as long as the CE mark (the European standard of conformity) was also present. Whatever your glass is stamped with, our officers test both hand-pulled and metered beers to make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

As well as spot checks and enforcement work, our officers assist and advise North Yorkshire businesses on weights and measures issues. For one national manufacturing business based in North Yorkshire, which uses specialist equipment such as rail weighbridges and beltweighers, knowing exactly how much product they produce is vital. Our officers work closely with the business to carry out annual checks on the equipment, to help to ensure they meet their strict targets.

So, although the products we buy and the standards we use may have changed since Egyptian times, weights and measures law is still going strong to help protect us as consumers.