||This card provides a general overview of the sampling procedures for retail packages and finished articles. However, additional requirements may apply to specific products and these are not covered here. Please refer to the appropriate standards and regulations in force.|
Retail packages are defined as packages where the weight of the smallest individual pack within the consignment does not usually exceed 5 l or 5 kg, i.e. various cans, bottles, jars and bags.
A retail package should be considered to be any pack specifically prepared for sale to an individual for domestic use.
This card also provides information on sampling of finished articles whether or not packed in retail sale packages which are not covered in their specific cards.
- In the case of a spice or herb this may mean a quantity as small as 10–25 g.
- For other commodities it will usually mean a package of between 100 g and 2 kg (or 2 l).
- For certain non-homogeneous commodities (e.g. dog food) this may also include sacks or bags up to 25 kg.
The articles are defined as finished products, which can be used directly by end users.
This card covers e.g. a variety of products, such as household articles, ornamental articles, sanitary articles, clothes, shoes, objects of personal adornment, tools, mechanical and electr(on)ic equipment, parts and accessories thereof, optical articles, instruments, parts and accessories thereof, watches, furniture, lamps and toys.
These articles consist of different materials, such as plastic, rubber, leather, paper, textiles, mineral products, ceramics, glass and metal or a combination of it.
Excluded are all semi-finished products such as ingots, rods, pipes, sheets, foil, wire, etc. The sampling of these products is covered by the sampling procedure card of the material of which they consist.
For waste articles see specific card for “Waste”.
|Recommended minimum quantity for each final sample
||Depending on the quantity in the consignment, the recommended minimum number of packages to be sampled for the purpose of creating an aggregate sample is:|
(number of packages)
of packages to be sampled
|1 001-10 000
|10 001-150 000
|150 001-500 000
|> 500 000
Adapted from FAO/WHO — CAC/GL 50-2004, table 17 for reduced insp. level. Exceptions to this table are explained in the sampling plan below.
Where the packages are small, ensure that the final sample is at least 250 g. For articles the minimum final sample is one piece of finished and functional product.
If the consignment is homogeneous (all packages have the same label, content, net weight or volume, production or batch number and/or expiry date) fewer packages (or items of articles) may be sampled. In principle the minimum amount/weight of identical final samples, required by the laboratory, according to your national guidelines, should be enough.
Homogeneity: Products packaged for retail sale will usually be mass produced and of uniform composition or homogenous. However for some goods the natural variability of the product may mean that retail packages and finished articles are not uniform or homogenous. In each case you may use your discretion regarding the number of samples drawn.
- Where it is clear that the packages are uniform (e.g. manufactured items with the same production date or batch numbers) the number packages drawn may be reduced whist still being representative of the consignment as a whole. However remember to take the minimum quantity required for analysis.
- Where there is any doubt over the uniformity of the packages, for example where there are visible differences between the contents, you make take additional packages in excess of the quantity required by the scale of sampling to ensure your sample is representative.
- Same is applied for articles: Where there is any doubt over the uniformity of the articles, for example where there are visible differences between then individual pieces, you make take more samples to ensure your sample is representative. An example of not homogeneous goods is e.g. ceramics. Practice shows that the kind of ceramic of articles (porcelain, stoneware, common- and fine pottery) regularly differs within one consignment.
- The articles of high value are usually sampled as one representative piece.
- Where you have not followed the scale, either taking more or less than the scale, you must record your reasons on the sampling form.
|Applicable standards (ISO and EU Norms) and relevant legislation
You should also refer to your national legislation and national guidelines regarding sampling.
- FAO/WHO. Codex Alimentarius General Guidelines on Sampling — CAC/GL 50-2004.
|Suggested sampling tool depending on the method used
- General tools: knife, scissors, tongs, flashlight, etc.
|Containers to be used for the sampling
Some articles of larger size need no containers if a label can be attached easily on them e.g. ceramic products, timber, stone, or products such as electronic devices and apparatus.
- Plastic bags, different designs and sizes; with or without pre-printed label (P00)
- Paper bags or cardboard boxes, cartons; with or without pre-printed label (R00, R01)
|Safety precautions and risk assessment
||Please refer to your national legislation and guidelines on health and safety.|
- Under normal conditions goods in retail packages and finished articles do not present particular health hazards.
- For foodstuffs: no particular hazards unless you have a specific allergy to the contents.
- For other preparations: see SDS or ADR and hazard and safety labels on the original packing.
- Wear protective gloves, safety glasses and/or a protective mask (if necessary).
- You should be aware of and follow any health and safety instructions in the local risk assessment and/or safe working practices for the location where the sampling is to take place.
|Type of consignment
|Consignments for customs clearance
||The aggregate sample consists of an appropriate number of incremental samples: cans, bottles, jars or bags taken in their unopened retail packing from all parts of the consignment.|
One sample (one retail sale package or one item of article) is usually taken as representing the goods covered by the same customs declaration.
|Consignments for CAP (export refunds) or excise inspection
||The aggregate sample consists of an appropriate number of incremental samples: cans, bottles, jars or bags taken in their unopened retail packing from all parts of the consignment. The minimum number of packages to be sampled is given in the Table above. If the consignment consists of goods originating from one production line (the lot number is identical) a reduced number of samples may be taken.|
It is also important to consider the proportion of the consignment taken as a sample; see the General principles.
- Different lots must be sampled separately. Labels on the packing may indicate whether the consignment contains different production batches or dates, and whether the products in different lots vary in quality.
- If the labels on the packing indicate that the consignment contains different products, e.g. a consignment of jam may contain different kinds of jam, you must take samples of each kind. For articles, where a consignment contains a mix of items e.g. screws and bolts of different types and composition you must take samples of each kind.
- The integrity of packages and the expiry date must always be examined.
- Retail packages and finished articles taken as samples must not be opened or their contents moved to other sample containers.
- Precautions must be taken to avoid erasing or concealing the information on the original packing. The customs label should not cover the commercial labels of the original product (trademark, manufacturer, content, expiry date, duty stamps etc.). It is recommended that sampled retail packages are placed in a plastic bag or paper box and that the labels and seals are fixed to the bag or box.
- If the product is about to expire or is beyond the expiry date, the consignment would not usually be sampled unless there are particular reasons for doing so.
- For large articles photographic evidence taken by sampling officers, and documents, describing the article, its technical details and function, may be a satisfactory alternative for sampling. Additionally, for machines, electr(on)ic equipment and instruments this information is essential for their correct classification.
- Large articles may be also tested immediately using a mobile laboratory or by means of mobile diagnostics if available.
- Fill in the sampling form. One copy should be attached to the samples and one copy should be kept for the record.
- Make sure that the transport conditions guarantee the integrity and characteristics of the sample transported.
- Ensure that the appropriate transport conditions for the goods are correctly maintained. If necessary the appropriate hazard symbols and/or temperature conditions should be clearly marked on the outside of any external packing.
- Samples of food and chemical products must be transported separately (cargo holds, packing boxes, etc.) on the transport vehicle in order to prevent any possibility of cross-contamination.
- Storage conditions are determined by the characteristics and properties of the samples taken.
- Ensure that the appropriate storage conditions for the goods are correctly maintained. If necessary the appropriate hazard symbols and/or temperature conditions should be clearly marked on the outside of any external packing.
- Store in a clean, dry, dark, cool and sufficiently ventilated room.
- The articles of high value must be stored securely.