The plastic knives sold by Woolworths.
The plastic knives sold by Woolworths.

Plastic knives ‘flagged’ at Woolies

A security measure put on the word "knife" at Woolworths means customers trying to buy plastic knives at any of the supermarket's self-service check-outs will need to ask employees for approval.

A customer shopping at Erskineville Woolworths, in Sydney's inner west, earlier today noticed the security measure when she attempted to buy a 50 pack of plastic knives and was stopped at the self-service checkout.

The plastic knives sold by Woolworths.
The plastic knives sold by Woolworths.

A Woolworths employee had to come over and approve the purchase, allowing the customer to continue scanning items.

In a statement, Woolworths confirmed it had controls in place to make sure knives, regardless of what they were made of, could not be bought by people under 16.

Selling knives to children under the age 16 is illegal in NSW. The only exception is that retailers are allowed to sell a plastic knife designed as an eating utensil.

"New South Wales residents under 16 years of age are prohibited by law from buying certain types of knives.

"In line with these requirements, we've put controls in place within our point of sale systems to flag whenever any kind of knife is scanned at a self-serve checkout," a Woolworths spokeswoman said.

"As plastic knives are exempt from the ban, our store teams do not need to see ID when these items are scanned and will help customers finalise their purchase."

Any product that contains the word "knife" will be flagged by the self-service checkout and a Woolies worker will need to approve the sale before the customer can continue, the supermarket giant confirmed.

Self-service check-outs at Woolworths. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
Self-service check-outs at Woolworths. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

In May, Woolworths returned weight scales to its self-service check-out areas in a bid to cut down on the amount of items being stolen.

The weighing in the bagging area, paired with the robotic command "unexpected item in the bagging area", was switched off a number of years ago but the supermarket giant joined its rival Coles in turning it back on.

Woolworths said the change, which was rolled out to all stores in May, was also to avoid customers being overcharged because of scanning mistakes.

"Self-serve check-outs are popular and the vast majority of customers have no trouble scanning the right items," a spokesperson from the supermarket giant said.

"From time to time, we see customers scan the wrong items, so we've turned on weigh scales to help shoppers validate the right items are going through.

"We know customers like self-serve for its speed and ease and have extra team members on deck to help keep our customers moving as we implement this new measure."

The extra security measure came after it was revealed both Coles and Woolworths are trialling the use of new camera technology at the self-service check-outs.