For Immediate Release - November 19, 2013

Survey by State Division of Standards Finds Few Overcharges of Prepackaged Meat Items

Overall accuracy at 97.4 percent

BOSTON – With thousands of families across the Commonwealth getting ready for Thanksgiving, Massachusetts consumers can feel confident they are getting what they pay for at the meat counter after a surprise inspection by the state’s Division of Standards showed that over 97 percent of items were accurately weighed and labeled.

Division of Standards Compliance Officers looked at over 1,200 prepackaged meat items in approximately 50 supermarkets across the Commonwealth, finding 97.4 percent of the items to be correctly weighed and labeled. The inspections were conducted the weekends of October 5 and 6, and October 12 and 13, 2013.

“It is important that businesses are honest with consumers, and the results of this survey demonstrate that Massachusetts grocers are treating their customers with respect,” said Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Barbara Anthony. “The trust between a business and its patrons is the foundation of a strong economy.”

Compliance officers weighed random prepackaged meats, checking to see whether the weight labeled on the package was the actual weight of the product.  Items found to be underweight did not account for the full packaging “tare weight,” meaning that consumers would be paying for the weight of the packaging material.  The Division of Standards can fine a store $75.00 per violation if the actual weight of the package is less than the stated package label weight, or if a number of items in one store are found to be underweight.

Of the items checked, 86.6 percent were found to be at the correct weight; 10.9 percent were found to be slightly overweight, containing more than the marked weight and price on the package.  Only 2.8 percent were found to be slightly below the marked weight and price, which would have resulted in overcharges to the consumer.  The average overcharge amount was 11 cents, while the average amount undercharged was nine cents.

Division of Standards inspectors issued two civil citations amounting to $225.  The first was to a Stop & Shop in Braintree for $150 for overcharges totaling $1.66 on five underweight items. The second was to a Stop & Shop in Attleboro for $75 of an 11 cent overcharge on one underweight item.

Click here to see full survey results.

The Patrick Administration's Division of Standards enforces laws, rules, and regulations relating to weights and measures and the use of weighing and measuring devices in commercial transactions. It consistently checks item pricing and pricing methods at retailers throughout Massachusetts. The Division is part of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. For more on the Division and the Office, visit www.mass.gov/consumer. Follow the Office at its blog, on Facebook and on Twitter, @Mass_Consumer

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