Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner

Device and Package Inspection Programs

Bureau of Weights and Measures

Weights and measures officials throughout the State routinely inspect a wide range of commercial devices and packaged commodities to assure accurate measure in the marketplace. These inspections serve to eliminate from the marketplace those devices and packages that do not provide an accurate measure of the commodities or services that are exchanged. The inspections involve more than just accuracy tests, as the official must verify that the device or package meets other operational and/or marking and labeling requirements.

Officials inspect only commercial devices, that is, those used in the weighing or measuring of commodities for sale and those used to measure services rendered on the basis of weight or measure. Gas pumps, grocery store and deli scales, and truck mounted oil meters are some of the more common devices inspected. Devices such as taximeters, farm milk tanks, wire and cordage meters, and berry baskets also fall under the jurisdiction of weights and measures.

Look for the Weights and Measures Seal on Devices
Bureau of Weights and Measures Seal

The seal indicates that that device has been inspected and was performing correctly and within the applicable tolerances.

Not all weighing or measuring devices are under the jurisdiction of weights and measures. For example, industrial scales, volumetric standards, and meters that are not used for sale (or custody transfer) are not covered. Public utility gas and electric meters are regulated by the Public Service Commission. Municipal water meters are regulated by the local water district.

Foods make up the majority of the packaged consumer commodities inspected for accurate net contents. Commodities like cleaning agents, paints, and yard and garden products are also inspected. Wholesale packages and commodities are routinely inspected to protect businesses.

What are the standards?

The standards (specifications and tolerances) for commercial measuring devices are set in National Institute of Standards and Technology Handbook 44. Handbook 44 is used in all 50 states and contains specifications and tolerances against which each device is compared. This publication is a product of the National Conference on Weights and Measures and is updated annually to stay current with changing technology. In general, device tolerances are set to keep measuring errors as small as practical to protect both buyer and seller. For example, gas pumps measure five gallons to an accuracy of about 0.5% and deli scales measure 5 pounds of roast beef to an accuracy of about 0.2%.

The standards for packaged commodities are set in National Institute of Standards and Technology Handbook 133. Handbook 133 contains test procedures and allowances used to evaluate conformance with net contents requirements and is a national standard. This publication is also a product of the National Conference on Weights and Measures. Packaged commodities must meet two general requirements: first, the average of the net contents of a lot must equal the labeled quantity, and second, no individual package may be unreasonably below the label quantity.

Both State and local officials are empowered to conduct inspections. State officials have concurrent authority with the local officials, who only have authority within their municipality. State officials also conduct inspections on devices that may not be inspected by local officials such as vehicle scales, LPG truck meters, and terminal meters. Devices and packages that pass inspection remain in commerce. Those that fail are ordered repaired or removed from commerce. Under extreme circumstances, incorrect or fraudulent devices may be seized.

In all inspections, officials use reference standard weights and measures that are certified as accurate relative to the New York State Standards, which are traceable to national standards.

Have a Question or Complaint?

Contact either your local Weights and Measures Department from the list below:

Local Weights and Measures Departments
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
Bureau of Weights and Measures
10B Airline Drive
Albany, New York 12235-0001
(518) 457-3146

Revised 11/04/08