In a letter to Ed Davey, consumer affairs minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), GMB says customers are at risk of being ‘cheated’ as the under-filling of pints has become so widespread among pub landlords that commercial and other contracts are being based on targets that are impossible to achieve.
Pubs are required by law to serve a full pint but there is room for confusion over the size of the foam head. The set 'minimum' of 95 per cent liquid is being interpreted in practice as a 'maximum' in many pubs.
The GMB letter
“For years, beer drinkers have regularly complained about the short-filling of particularly beer and lager in certain outlets,” reads the GMB letter. “So much has this practice become acceptable and unchallenged that rents for tied tenants and other contracts like bonus payments for pub managers are being fixed on yields that are impossible to achieve without under-filling.
“For example, a GMB member in the East Midlands employed by one of the major pub chains had a written target for yield of 99.75 per cent. This is not uncommon. GMB consider such yield targets as illegal.
A recent nationwide investigation by Trading Standards discovered that pints are being served with an average shortfall of 3.94 per cent. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) insisted this was in line with ‘the minimum’, but critics say this means pub firms are making as much as £400m a year from froth.
“There is a need for clarity so that when a customer orders a pint and pays for a pint they should get a pint,” the letter continues. “That would also give GMB members a clearer legal defence against pressures to skimp and under-fill.”