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NIST, Food Marketing Institute Co-Host Webinar on Ensuring Accurate Net Weights in Retail

From NIST Tech Beat: March 1, 2011

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Contact: Mark Esser
(301) 975-8735

A reliable and trustworthy system of weights and measures is vital for economic activity. Maintaining that system requires constant vigilance, and that's where the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Weights and Measures Division (WMD) comes in. While the division routinely hosts meetings and online classes to help state regulators enforce compliance, NIST is now making an effort to reach out to industry and retailers so that they can proactively identify and address problems in their measurement procedures before the regulators show up. Proactive compliance will save industry money in fines and reduce pressure on state weights and measures enforcement resources while ensuring fairness in commerce.

As part of this effort, on Jan. 20, 2011, WMD co-hosted a webinar with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) on "Tare Verification—Ensuring Accurate Net Weights in Retail Stores." The webinar provided an overview to senior level retail management on the requirements for selling on the basis of net weight as outlined in the weights and measures compendium, NIST Handbook 133, Checking the Net Contents of Packaged Goods. More than 100 attendees representing over 80 different retail companies participated.

Tare is the weight of packaging materials. All products sold by weight must be sold by net weight so retailers must deduct the "tare" on any package they offer for sale to ensure consumers are not overcharged. Retailers acquainted and reacquainted themselves with the legal requirements for net quantity of packages and use of tare, the role and importance of state and local weights and measures programs, and the business case for, and value and benefits of ensuring accurate net weights.

NIST WMD hosted a follow up webinar on Feb. 24, 2011, to present detailed recommendations for ensuring accurate tare to retail personnel responsible for the day-to-day operations within their organizations. This "nuts and bolts" approach included real-world examples of common problems and how to avoid them using good quantity control processes, routine system checks, and examples of retailer best practices.

WMD is tasked with securing uniformity in weights and measures laws and practices, and conducts training as part of its approach to accomplishing this mission.

FMI represents over 1,500 food retailers and wholesalers with a combined sales volume of $680 billion (three-quarters of all food retail stores in the United States). FMI develops and promotes policies, programs and forums supporting its members, their customers and supplier partners, and other industry stakeholders.

The archived Feb. 24 webinar will appear on the WMD Web site and on the NIST YouTube channel.