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Here is a report from the Irish Times, dated 7 January 2006:

Legal chop for butchers who flout EU price rule

Butcher shops which fail to comply with price display regulations will face prosecution by the Director of Consumer Affairs, Carmel Foley.

A survey of 106 butcher shops carried out by Ms Foley's inspectors in October found that only 40 per cent complied with EU price regulations. However, a follow-up survey of non-compliant shops in November and December found compliance had increased to 75 per cent.

The tradition in the butcher trade was to sell meat by reference to the pound in weight. However EU law requires that prices be shown in metric to facilitate comparisons, meaning prices must be shown first in kilos. Ms Foley said butchers had been made aware of this, and would face prosecution if they failed to adhere to the rule.

"A judge can fine a butcher up to €3,000 per breach of this price regulation," she said. "Butchers can continue to display the price in pounds, but this must be secondary to the kilo price."

Ms Foley's inspectors will carry out another survey in the coming months. Associated Craft Butchers, which represents 60 per cent of the butcher trade, said 75 per cent compliance with the law was "quite high". "We are encouraging all our members to comply with this regulation and show the price in kilos first," said Pat Brady, chief executive of the organisation.

Mr Brady stressed however that failure to display the prices correctly in butcher shops was different from doing so in a supermarket. "The consumer in a butcher shop can ask about a price - this is the critical difference," he said. By showing the price in pounds, butchers were not deliberately misleading consumers; it was just custom, he added. Ms Foley said consumers were entitled to see metric pricing and she would be working with Associated Craft Butchers "on an education and advice programme aimed at achieving full compliance".

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