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Don't pay for packaging


How the Weights and Measures Division checks that you are not paying for packaging.

  • Scale Inspections- MN Weights and Measures officials will check for pre-programmed tares associated with product look-up codes (PLUs) at the time of the scale inspection. Vendors are not required to used pre-programmed tares but if they do not, inspectors will look for other evidence that tares are being taken:

    • Asking cash register clerks to demonstrate that they know how to deduct tare at the time of sale, and that they know the weight of various types of packaging;

    • Looking for tare charts at the cash registers;

    • Making undercover purchases.

  • Routine Package Checking Inspections- MN Weights and Measures officials make unannounced visits to grocery stores, set up their own test scales, determine the weight of the packaging materials of various items, and then weigh those items to see that the actual weight equals the declared weight. For any given lot to pass, it must meet the following requirements:\

    • The average weight of the entire lot of items must equal or exceed the declared weights on the packages; and

    • No single package may be short by more than the maximum allowable variation (MAV) as established in Tables 2-5 and 2-9 of NIST Handbook 133.

  • Consumer Complaints- MN Weights and Measures officials investigate consumer complaints regarding the net quantity of packages just as they respond to complaints about gasoline quantity or quality. Complaints can be made with our online Complaint Form.

  • Inter-State Cooperation- MN Weights and Measures officials collaborate with the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) as well as with other members of the Central Weights & Measures Association (CWMA), and the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) to share information about packaging practices and issues occurring in interstate commerce.

What you can do to make sure you are not paying for packaging

  • Look at Labels- Many new scales are now capable of printing the tare on the label. You will be able to see what tare was taken at the time the item was weighted and priced.

  • Watch as Your Deli & Meat Items are Being Weighed- The scale display is supposed to be visible to the customer. If tare is not preprogrammed into the scale, you should be able to see it being deducted on the display.

  • Ask the Clerk or Manager- If preprogrammed tare is being used, you typically will not see it on the scale display. Ask the clerk to show you what tare was taken on the item. If the clerk does not know what tare is, do not assume that the store isn't taking any. Stores often do not train clerks on tare if it is being automatically programmed. Ask the store manager instead. The manager should be able to show you what tare was taken on an item.

  • Contact the MN Department of Commerce Weights and Measures Division if you have a complaint about packaging or tare at a Minnesota location. Complaints can be made with our online Complaint Form.

MN Department of Commerce Weights and Measures Division
14305 Southcross Drive #150
Burnsville, MN 55306
651-539-1555 
952-435-4040 (fax)
952-435-4045 (TTY)
mn.gov/weights-and-measures