Weights & Measures

About the Department

The County Weights and Measures Department is a regulatory agency performing under the jurisdiction and direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Butte County Board of Supervisors. The department also works in cooperation with various federal, state, regional, and local agencies, including the CDFA Division of Measurement Standards (DMS). The Weights and Measures division is mandated by state law to protect the interest of buyers and sellers to ensure the honesty and integrity of everyday business transactions. At the county level, the Agriculture Department consists of two divisions: Agriculture and Weights and Measures.

Functions & Activities

Historically, it has been the primary objective of weights and measures officials that "Equity Prevails" in the marketplace. To achieve that objective the department enforces the laws and regulations of the Business and Professions Code of California and the California Code of Regulations. Locally, this enforcement protects and promotes the economy and commerce of Butte County. Most consumer transactions involve the exchange of goods and services over some form of weighing or measuring device. Each year, county weights and measures officials provide protection by inspecting and testing the accuracy of these devices. Also, officials check packaged commodities for labeling requirements, quantity statement accuracy, and pricing scanners for correctness. In addition to inspection activities, weights and measures officials provide education and training to the public as well as the regulated industries.

Service Agency Program

Persons that sell, rent, install, service, or repair commercial weighing and measuring devices are required to be licensed by the County's Weights and Measures office. The lawful licensing of repair people by weights and measures officials assist with the integrity of the repair industry. Agents must take and pass a written exam before a license can be issued. Repairmen must report their work to county weights and measures officials. This allows for an efficient review of their work to validate the accuracy of that work and verify the appropriate use of devices.

Device Program

Butte County Weights and Measures Officials inspect and test various types of weighing and measuring devices throughout the county. Examples of some of the types of devices inspected are:

  • Electric meters
  • Wired cordage meters
  • Propane meters
  • Fuel dispensers
  • Water meters
  • Gas meters
  • Produce scales
  • Deli scales
  • Shipping scales
  • Livestock scales
  • Truck scales, etc.

There are approximately 8,000 such devices inspected in Butte County each year. All such devices are under the scrutiny of Weights and Measures. They are tested for accuracy and inspected to determine if they are appropriate for their intended use. Once that is determined the inspector certifies the device by affixing a paper seal to it.

Quantity Control Program

Inspectors conduct inspections on packaged goods using statistical sampling procedures to determine if the package content is equal to the amount stated on the label. In addition, package labeling is examined for compliance with the basic labeling requirements as set by laws and regulations. Packaged commodities inspections occur at:

  • Packing sites
  • Distributors
  • Retailers
  • Supermarkets
  • Meat markets
  • Bakeries
  • Delis
  • Various other locations where packaged items are sold

In many stores, barcode readers and price look-up systems (scanners) have replaced individual prices on items. Price verification audits and test purchases are made at various establishments throughout the county in order to check the accuracy of price transactions.

Weighmaster Program

In one way or another, all of commerce is affected by the activities of weighmasters. Weighmasters are persons who weigh, measure, or count a bulk commodity, outside the presence of one party to the transaction and issue a certificate documenting the quantity that is used as the basis of a sale. A weighmaster can be the buyer, seller, or a third neutral party. Courts of law recognize the certificates issued by weighmasters as being legal documents. As such, there are criteria that must be followed by weighmasters when issuing weighmaster certificates. Training is provided and inspections are performed by county weights and measures officials to ensure the correctness of the certificates issued. Diverse businesses are weighmasters, such as:

  • Rice milling plants
  • Almond processors
  • Cement plants
  • Scrap metal yards
  • Moving and storage companies
  • Livestock dealers
  • Rock quarries

Petroleum Products Program

The petroleum program run by Weights and Measures in California is unique. Locally, weights and measures officials enforce that portion of the California Business and Professions Code relating to petroleum product standards. Periodically, through consumer complaints or routine audits, samples are taken and sent to the lab in Sacramento for analysis. This is done to insure that the product complies with national standards and is in fact the same product as being advertised. Labeling regulations are also strictly enforced to provide product identity and information to the buyer and seller. This includes:

  • Price sign advertising
  • Making sure no deceptive, false, or misleading statements are being advertised
  • Posting the product brand, grade, name, and octane ratings to dispensers
  • Ensuring that price advertising signs and pump dispenser prices agree
  • Free air and water to those customers who purchase motor fuel
  • Service to disabled drivers
  • Proper labels attached to underground storage tanks to prevent the commingling of products

Consumer Services

Weights and Measures Inspectors perform investigations of all complaints received from consumers as they relate to weights and measures. The complaints received occasionally involve the investigation of possible unlawful practices and at times, require coordination with the District Attorney's Office in order to prosecute violators.

Wood, for fuel purposes, shall only be sold or offered for sale by cord measure, excepting as hereinafter provided. The cord is hereby established as a standard measure, and shall contain 128 cubic feet, well-stowed and packed: (Well-stowed and packed means stacked in such a manner that air spaces are reduced to a minimum).

In all sales of wood for fuel, the cord of 128 cubic feet shall be the true and legal standard of measure, and usage, by law, ordinance, or custom of any person to the contrary notwithstanding.

An invoice or delivery ticket must be presented by the seller to the purchaser. The invoice or delivery ticket should contain the name/address of the seller, the date purchased or delivered, the quantity purchased, and the price of the quantity purchased.

Wood for fuel purposes when sold in quantities less than the one-eighth cord may be sold in containers provided that the container is labeled with the content in cubic feet or fraction of a cord. Wired or tied bundles, or individual logs, need not be labeled as to quantity when the count or content is accurately determined at the time of, and for the immediate purpose of sale.