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News Release

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contacts: Steve Lyle, CDFA Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462,,

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #11-006
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Protecting consumers by making sure they get what they pay for

SACRAMENTO, March 1, 2011 — When you buy two pounds of apples, 12 gallons of gas, or a cord of firewood, how do you know you get what you pay for? The work of weights and measures inspectors helps to ensure that. 

Weights and measures inspectors monitor routine transactions in commerce and keep pace with rapidly advancing technologies to ensure fairness in the marketplace. Their service to consumers and industry plays an essential role in our economic system by protecting buyers and sellers in virtually all sales of goods in the country.

In recognition of this vital element of our free-market society, the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Division of Measurement Standards is joining Sealers of Weights and Measures statewide in celebrating National Weights and Measures Week: “Keeping Pace for the Future,” March 1-7, 2010.

“This date is significant; it marks the signing of the first national weights and measures law by John Adams on March 2, 1799,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “During the 150-year history of weights and measures in California that traces back to the Gold Rush of 1849-‘50, we have seen amazing advancements from mechanical devices to highly sophisticated, software-based weighing and measuring systems.”

Today, throughout the United States, quantities are determined in all business sectors using the latest advancements in technology. Gasoline stations and supermarkets employ state-of-the-art weighing and measuring equipment. Railway cars and highway vehicles are weighed “in-motion.” Coal is weighed while moving rapidly across belt-conveyor scales. Motor fuel quality, another function for weights and measures, is also a rapidly advancing science. Regulatory officials are challenged with the development of performance specifications and laboratory testing of evolving fuel sources such as ethanol, biodiesel, biobutanol, and hydrogen. Regardless of the technology in place, inspectors are well-trained to secure accuracy and equity.

“The weights and measures inspector is perhaps the least-known element of daily commerce in the United States, but these experts protect buyers and sellers in every transaction,” said Secretary Ross.

National Weights and Measures Week is declared by the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM), which is a professional, nonprofit association of state and local weights and measures officials, manufacturers, retailers and consumers. In 1905, NCWM was formed to develop model standards for uniform enforcement from city to city and state to state. The organization has set the example for bringing the right interests to the table to develop and amend national standards to keep pace with innovative advancements in the marketplace.


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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814