No matter where inspections might take field representatives from the Arkansas Bureau of Standards – and locations are indeed varied – their goal can be summed up succinctly.
“Our mission is to make sure everybody gets a square deal,” says Tom Pugh, director for the Bureau of Standards. “We are the front lines for fraud and error in the state as it relates to packaged goods, and we enforce net contents accuracy in labeling.”
The Bureau, a division of the Arkansas State Plant Board, is responsible not only for protecting the interest of consumers and buyers but also the sellers. These include manufacturers, packers, processors, wholesalers and retail merchants.
With 32 employees, most of them inspectors located throughout Arkansas, the Bureau performs a variety of services such as handling complaints on advertising, pricing scanners, labeling violations and even accuracy of firewood volume.
It also does a good bit of scales testing at grocery stores and other retailers selling fruits and vegetables.
“When you put your produce down on a scale at any store in the state, we have made sure that scale is accurate,” Pugh says. “Agencies that are contracted by the store certify the scales annually. What our bureau does is make sure the service agencies are actually doing their job properly. Our team goes behind the service agencies to make sure scales are accurate.”
Another big part of the Bureau’s job is enforcing petroleum quality at gas stations.
“We have a crew that does nothing but that,” Pugh says. “They go out unannounced in whatever territories they cover.”
In addition to checking the gasoline’s quality, the Bureau inspects gasoline pumps for accurate measurements. It’s especially diligent during high-travel periods such as holiday weekends.
“We’re rolling up to gasoline stations unannounced, taking 5-gallon measures and making sure it’s within a tolerance of 3 cubic inches, plus or minus,” Pugh says. “We find almost no short measure on petroleumdispensing devices in the state. It’s not a systemic problem.”
Findings from a typical monthly report on gasoline stations are usually on the order of “expired calibration,” “incorrect ethanol stickers posted” and “water coming through premium nozzle.”
Pugh says most violations of Bureau regulations are found at heavy truck scales, deli and meat counters, and in petroleum contamination.