Mississippi Weights and Measures For the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC) staff in the Weights and Measures Division of the Bureau of Regulatory Services, a job well done has just as much to do with quantity as it does with quality. “We look at everything from livestock to yogurt and other consumer products sold by measurable quantities,” says Julie McLemore, director of the Bureau of Regulatory Services. “The objective of this division is to make sure commercial weight and measuring devices are accurate. “Customers want to get what they’re paying for and, of course, businesses want to make sure everybody is on a level playing field. So basically it’s all about equity in the marketplace.” Weights and Measures is one of four primary divisions within the Bureau of Regulatory Services, which administers and enforces various laws and regulations meant to protect consumers and businesses in Mississippi. Others are Consumer Protection, Meat Inspection and Petroleum Products Inspection. Connie Braswell is director of Weights and Measures, which also includes two field supervisors and 12 statewide field inspectors. It’s Braswell’s team that ensures that when a consumer purchases a 50 pound bag of feed, it truly weighs 50 pounds. “If it doesn’t,” Braswell says, “it has to be weighed again or else relabeled. “We check grocery store scales in the produce and meat departments,” she continues, “as well as scales at truck stops, grain elevators and co-ops. We go from smallest to largest.” Weights and Measures inspectors check all scales used in commerce, from small precision scales used to weigh precious metals within 1/100th of a pound all the way up to railroad scales used to weigh 250,000 pound boxcar loads of grain. Inspectors test every scale in Mississippi once a year with the exception of livestock and poultry scales which are tested twice yearly with the total being approximately 6,200 scales. If an inspected scale is inaccurate, it will have a red tag affixed to it to indicate it needs to be repaired or adjusted by a licensed repair person before it can be used again. A relatively new responsibility of the division is testing UPC systems in stores to ensure the price advertised on the shelf is the same as the price scanned at the register. For those who wonder if the weights used by inspectors to perform inspections are themselves accurate, McLemore says they are regularly checked at the Mississippi Metrology Laboratory operated by MDAC and located at Alcorn State University in Lorman. “The lab compares the weights to state standards, which are traceable to the International System of Units, and makes sure they maintain recognition with the National Institute of Standards and Technology,” McLemore says. “So the weights the field inspectors use are traceable to weights in Washington, D.C.” The mission of the Bureau of Regulatory Services is to effectively and efficiently administer and enforce the laws and regulations charged to it. The foremost goals are to protect the health and economic welfare of all citizens, afford a measure of economic protection that citizens cannot provide for themselves, and to strive for equity in the marketplace which, when realized, works to the good of all citizens of the state.

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