When you were shopping for groceries last week and you bought those packages of meat did you ever wonder whether you really got two pounds of hamburger in that package or not? How about that gallon can of paint, liter of pop, or box of cereal? Did they really contain the amount stated on the label?
The Montana Weights & Measures Bureau is, like most other weights & measures jurisdictions throughout the United States, charged with assuring the accuracy of the net contents listed on all prepackaged goods and has adopted the 2011 Edition of NIST Handbook 133. Products ranging from meat wrapped and labeled at the local grocery store to boxes of cereal packed in some other state, must all be labeled with the correct net weight of the contents. As a consumer, you cannot be charged for the packaging material such as Styrofoam trays, shrink-wrap, paper boxes, or deli containers. All types of commodities whether liquid or solids, are subject to these laws. This function of the Weights & Measures Bureau affects every Montanan on a daily basis.
In order to perform these duties, weights & measures inspectors have the authority to test for compliance the net contents of any prepackaged goods anywhere they are kept, offered, or exposed for sale. These tests are conducted using a statistically valid method developed in conjunction with industry and adopted by most if not all weights & measures jurisdictions in the United States.
In addition to the obvious regulatory aspect of this function, the Bureau is pro-actively committed to working with any business or individual that produces a pre-packed product. Representatives from the Bureau are available at no charge to help any business develop good packing procedures. These packaging procedures will insure that not only is the consumer getting the correct amount of product, but that the business is neither giving away product nor unknowingly committing some packaging error for which they may be penalized in the future.
If you have any additional questions concerning net-contents packaging laws or regulations or would like more information about the process used to check net weight please contact the Bureau.