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  • Weights and measures

    Post #1 - October 24th, 2014, 5:24 pm
    Post #1 - October 24th, 2014, 5:24 pm Post #1 - October 24th, 2014, 5:24 pm
    Hi,

    I typically purchase 10 pounds of potatoes. A few months ago, a bag felt just a little light. I asked the cashier to weigh it on their scales before processing, it weighed 9.5 pounds. I declined to buy it, then suggested she alert the produce manager to this issue.

    A few days later at another store, the potatoes weighed in at 9.96 pounds. It was within an acceptable range, I bought it.

    Today I selected a 10 pound bag of potatoes. When I asked for the weight, it came in at 9.5 pounds. I declined, which seemed to surprise the cashier. I said it is underweight enough that I consider it shorted. When someone came round to collect items for restocking, the cashier handed the potatoes over. I said they need to alert the produce manager it is short weighted. This cashier seemed annoyed.

    Maybe it is just me, though I get a bit annoyed paying for 10# and receiving less.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #2 - October 24th, 2014, 6:07 pm
    Post #2 - October 24th, 2014, 6:07 pm Post #2 - October 24th, 2014, 6:07 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Maybe it is just me, though I get a bit annoyed paying for 10# and receiving less.

    Regards,


    Not to mention, highly illegal.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - October 24th, 2014, 6:13 pm
    Post #3 - October 24th, 2014, 6:13 pm Post #3 - October 24th, 2014, 6:13 pm
    Totally unacceptable. You did the right thing, IMO.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #4 - October 24th, 2014, 7:02 pm
    Post #4 - October 24th, 2014, 7:02 pm Post #4 - October 24th, 2014, 7:02 pm
    Hi- I mostly only buy veggies at the grocery store in the winter time, but one thing I learned from Tightwad Gazette is to weigh a few bags of whatever I am getting such as carrots or potatoes, and I will pick the one that weighs the most. You would be surprised how much the weight varies from bag to bag. Right now the Evanston farmer's market is open for another three Saturday's, and I much prefer the freshly dug potatoes I can get there, even though they are more money than what you can get in the grocery store. I love the yukon gold potatoes, and I never got around to making potato leek soup this week like I had intended.

    I really doubt that anything was done about the bag of potatoes that was short a half a pound. The potatoes are preweighed in the packing house before they get shipped to the store. I have heard of instances at Jewel where somebody finds something which is past its expiration date, and hands it to somebody in customer service, and it is just put back on the shelf. Dominick's was notorious for doing that.
  • Post #5 - October 25th, 2014, 9:59 am
    Post #5 - October 25th, 2014, 9:59 am Post #5 - October 25th, 2014, 9:59 am
    I agree, a half-pound out of ten is significant enough to protest about. That's 5%. Three times the rate of inflation for any year in the past three.
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #6 - October 25th, 2014, 1:46 pm
    Post #6 - October 25th, 2014, 1:46 pm Post #6 - October 25th, 2014, 1:46 pm
    (1) With an item as variable in size & shape & weight as a potato I'd be surprised if a "10 Pound Bag" was ever exactly 10 pounds. Not sure 9.5 is close enough though. Now, if it's 9.5 lbs some of the time and 10.5 lbs some of the time ...

    (2) Semi-PSA: I think many LTHers would enjoy "Great Guy" (1936), starring Jimmy Cagney as a two-fisted Weights & Measures inspector.
    Last edited by Roger Ramjet on October 25th, 2014, 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    fine words butter no parsnips
  • Post #7 - October 25th, 2014, 6:48 pm
    Post #7 - October 25th, 2014, 6:48 pm Post #7 - October 25th, 2014, 6:48 pm
    We should start weighing multiple bags. Bet they are never 10.5.

    If my bet is correct, then this is simply fraud.
  • Post #8 - October 25th, 2014, 7:24 pm
    Post #8 - October 25th, 2014, 7:24 pm Post #8 - October 25th, 2014, 7:24 pm
    lougord99 wrote:We should start weighing multiple bags. Bet they are never 10.5.

    If my bet is correct, then this is simply fraud.


    I also weigh bags before buying them and have disproven your hypothesis plenty of times. I frequently find ones that weigh more than advertised. That said, ethically speaking, I feel as if these pre-packed and pre-weighed bags should weigh AT LEAST the advertised weight, not +/-.
  • Post #9 - October 26th, 2014, 9:52 am
    Post #9 - October 26th, 2014, 9:52 am Post #9 - October 26th, 2014, 9:52 am
    I have never thought to weigh them-great idea
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #10 - October 26th, 2014, 11:44 am
    Post #10 - October 26th, 2014, 11:44 am Post #10 - October 26th, 2014, 11:44 am
    I've never thought to weight them either. I've always loooked at 5 and 10 lb sacks of potatoes as volume and not weight.

    I've never studied it or even thought about it, but I would assume potato's shrink with time, as they dry out (most things do). What you are buying now is still, most likely, last years crop, still working it's way through the supply chain.

    I guess if my Filet Mignon was a half pound light on a ten pound order, I might be miffed. Potato's are so cheap, at least around here, they can have the half pound.

    I'll bet if somebody raised a big enough stink, there will be a disclaimer on the new packaging saying they are 10 pounds at packaging, and some shrinkage may occur.

    With all that being said, I will throw a bag on the scales the next time we are at the store, just to see.......

    Tim
  • Post #11 - October 27th, 2014, 11:07 am
    Post #11 - October 27th, 2014, 11:07 am Post #11 - October 27th, 2014, 11:07 am
    Weighing on the digital scale at the register makes sense. We have to assume that the scales are well-calibrated. If they are 'off', they are probably off in favor of the store, showing a higher weight than the item really is.

    Those springy scales that are hanging from the ceiling in any given produce department are a different story, I think. The weight shown on those scales, imho, is just a rough suggestion. They really are not accurate. I only use them to see how much a melon will be if it is selling by the pound instead of the piece. If you pick a cantaloupe and learn that, at say 39 cents a pound, the melon will cost you $3, you have information to help you decide.

    If you are weighing bags of potatoes (or even the five-pound bags of carrots at Jerry's and other stores), I think it could be quite clumsy to hoist multiple bags up to those springy tilted scales. But if you are weighing multiple examples of the same item, you can just pick the heaviest one of the sample group.

    I often see the produce workers opening up pints of fresh berries and such and picking the moldy ones to toss out. The remaining berries are certainly short-weighted but the stores don't seem to care to replace the tossed out berries with good berries from another container. And this is done in front of the customers and I have never heard of anyone complaining. But you can see customers carefully eyeballing the level of berries when making their selection.
  • Post #12 - October 27th, 2014, 12:06 pm
    Post #12 - October 27th, 2014, 12:06 pm Post #12 - October 27th, 2014, 12:06 pm
    Hi- I am not saying that the scales in the produce section are totally accurate, but you can see if one bag of potatoes has half a pound more than another bag of potatoes. That is often the case. Yes it might not be easy weighing potatoes, and especially 10 pound bags, but it is easy weighing bags of carrots. Some produce sections do not have the hanging scale in their produce section, but have a scale that sits on a counter, and with those it would be easier to weigh the potatoes. I rarely buy 10 pounds of potatoes at the grocery store. I have bought 10 pounds of potatoes at the farmer's market though at the end of the season when I could get a good deal. Saturday Henry had #2 organic potatoes, including fingerlings for $1 a pound, and I was almost tempted, but I still have some yukon gold left over from the last time I bought potatoes at Nichol's stand.
  • Post #13 - October 27th, 2014, 12:49 pm
    Post #13 - October 27th, 2014, 12:49 pm Post #13 - October 27th, 2014, 12:49 pm
    My first thought on this is that potatoes are still alive, so they do lose some weight during storage, both by losing water and by converting some of their starch into carbon dioxide and water. However, this paper indicates that such losses are in the 1-2% range, so not enough to account for Cathy's 0.5 pound shortfall.
    http://library.ndsu.edu/tools/dspace/lo ... sequence=1
  • Post #14 - October 28th, 2014, 3:20 pm
    Post #14 - October 28th, 2014, 3:20 pm Post #14 - October 28th, 2014, 3:20 pm
    I've definitely seen people eating right off the produce shelves (things like berries and grapes) so would not be at all surprised that things are short weight. I also sometimes buy the organic bunch carrots, held together just by a rubber band, and find them wildly different. I think people slip the pretty, smooth ones out of one band and into another.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
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  • Post #15 - October 29th, 2014, 1:59 pm
    Post #15 - October 29th, 2014, 1:59 pm Post #15 - October 29th, 2014, 1:59 pm
    This thread has reminded me of three times that I've bought a sizable amount of meat or fish from the Mettawa Costco (ribs, salmon, rib roast) and found that the weight shown on the package sticker was significantly greater than the weight I measured at home --- on a digital scale that I bought at Costco. I was going to go to the service desk to ask for the appropriate amount of my money back, but a friend who works there suggested that I instead email corporate with photos of the scale readings and sticker weights and suggest that the scale in the meat department at that location might need to be calibrated. I think she was correct that that's a more productive route to take. I don't want to have to weigh every meat or fish item I buy from there in the future, or worse, take my digital scale with me every time I shop there.

    Not that I've found the Mettawa Costco is alone in this. I've also found I've been overcharged for fried chicken sold by the pound from one of the nearby Jewel stores (can't remember which one). I haven't been in the habit of weighing every such package I buy at a grocery store; I must admit it's only when buying something that weighs, say, three or more pounds at $8/lb or more that I start to wonder how much trouble the store went to to weigh it accurately.

    I'll also say it's never gone the other way: I've never yet weighed a package of some pricey meat or fish and found the sticker weight was less than the scale weight. I should add that I'm talking about the sticker weight exceeding the scale weight *with* packaging (styrofoam, plastic), which weighs so little it doesn't account for the differences I've seen.

    I agree that things like bags of potatoes and carrots can't be expected to weigh exactly to the pound, and I expect them to average out in the long run. Only since this thread was started has it occurred to me to weigh them once in a while. But things like meat and fish, which cost roughly 10 to 50 times more per pound and for which the seller labels the weight to the hundredth of a pound, shouldn't be off by half a pound or more on a five-pound package. I do suggest checking with your own scales at home and letting store managers know when you find a significant discrepancy.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #16 - October 29th, 2014, 2:43 pm
    Post #16 - October 29th, 2014, 2:43 pm Post #16 - October 29th, 2014, 2:43 pm
    Katie,

    You may want to weigh something at home, then ask Costco to weigh it. There is the possibility your scale is off. Very likely we own the very same scale from Costco.

    When you do self-checkout on something weighed at the counter, they ask about packaging to subtract out this variance.

    When I bought a case of peppers in Kansas City, I had them weigh and subtract the weight of a similar packing case. They had to get a manager involved to figure out how to make the adjustment, but at several dollars a pound it is not trivial the case weight.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #17 - October 29th, 2014, 2:47 pm
    Post #17 - October 29th, 2014, 2:47 pm Post #17 - October 29th, 2014, 2:47 pm
    Great explanation Katie! And interesting topic, Cathy. I have put a kitchen scale on my Costco shopping list.
  • Post #18 - October 29th, 2014, 4:33 pm
    Post #18 - October 29th, 2014, 4:33 pm Post #18 - October 29th, 2014, 4:33 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Katie,

    You may want to weigh something at home, then ask Costco to weigh it. There is the possibility your scale is off. Very likely we own the very same scale from Costco.

    When you do self-checkout on something weighed at the counter, they ask about packaging to subtract out this variance.

    When I bought a case of peppers in Kansas City, I had them weigh and subtract the weight of a similar packing case. They had to get a manager involved to figure out how to make the adjustment, but at several dollars a pound it is not trivial the case weight.

    Regards,


    You might want to check your scale by weighing a pint of water. "A pint's a pound the world around".
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #19 - October 29th, 2014, 8:54 pm
    Post #19 - October 29th, 2014, 8:54 pm Post #19 - October 29th, 2014, 8:54 pm
    HI,

    Well I tried the pint of water trick, which had its own learning experience.

    I have some silicon measuring cups. I put a pint measure on my scale, reset it to zero, then poured water to the line. It weight 1 lb 1.7 ounces. I took a spoon and removed water until it hit 1 lb cleanly. I was under the two-cup measure by an 1/8th of a cup roughly.

    I took a pyrex one-cup measure and poured to the 1-cup line. It came in exactly as 0.5 pounds.

    Both measuring cups were intended for measuring liquids, though obviously they were calibrated differently.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #20 - October 30th, 2014, 2:33 pm
    Post #20 - October 30th, 2014, 2:33 pm Post #20 - October 30th, 2014, 2:33 pm
    I have in fact checked my scale by weighing sticks of butter and other solid items. My scale is fairly new, and it is not off. Two sticks of butter weigh exactly 8.0 oz. I took pictures of those weight checks too. I'm an engineer; of course I checked the scale! :)
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #21 - October 31st, 2014, 12:24 pm
    Post #21 - October 31st, 2014, 12:24 pm Post #21 - October 31st, 2014, 12:24 pm
    Fantastic! I was asking myself how to calibrate a scale without having a set of weights. Butter sticks! Very clever. --Joy
  • Post #22 - October 31st, 2014, 1:32 pm
    Post #22 - October 31st, 2014, 1:32 pm Post #22 - October 31st, 2014, 1:32 pm
    stevez wrote:You might want to check your scale by weighing a pint of water. "A pint's a pound the world around".

    Close enough for government work I suppose, but a pint—16 fluid ounces of water, that is—actually weighs 1.04 pounds. That's roughly the same degree of inaccuracy (4%) that Cathy complains about with her potatoes (5%). That old saying is doubly misleading, as a pint isn't the same around the world—some countries use the Imperial pint, which is 20 fluid ounces. By the way, how does one measure a pint with better than 1% accuracy in an ordinary kitchen? As Cathy's experience shows, it's not so simple.

    Cathy2 wrote:I have some silicon measuring cups. I put a pint measure on my scale, reset it to zero, then poured water to the line. It weight 1 lb 1.7 ounces. I took a spoon and removed water until it hit 1 lb cleanly.

    You should be aiming for 1 pound 0.7 ounces. Fluid ounces, a unit of volume, should not be mistaken for ounces, a unit of mass ("ounce" has other definitions too). It's really a shame the whole world doesn't use the metric system.
  • Post #23 - October 31st, 2014, 2:54 pm
    Post #23 - October 31st, 2014, 2:54 pm Post #23 - October 31st, 2014, 2:54 pm
    Rene G wrote:Close enough for government work I suppose, but a pint—16 fluid ounces of water, that is—actually weighs 1.04 pounds. That's roughly the same degree of inaccuracy (4%) that Cathy complains about with her potatoes (5%). That old saying is doubly misleading, as a pint isn't the same around the world—some countries use the Imperial pint, which is 20 fluid ounces. By the way, how does one measure a pint with better than 1% accuracy in an ordinary kitchen? As Cathy's experience shows, it's not so simple.

    Ah, but I would assume that if I calibrated in grams in a half liter of water (500ml), it should be accurate on the ounces!
    But I am certain I can't eyeball 500ml to better than 1% either.

    Note, however, that one US nickel should weigh 5g.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #24 - October 31st, 2014, 4:29 pm
    Post #24 - October 31st, 2014, 4:29 pm Post #24 - October 31st, 2014, 4:29 pm
    JoelF wrote:Note, however, that one US nickel should weigh 5g.

    Useful info! I didn't know that. The US Mint actually specifies coin weights to 3 decimal places (ie, 5.000 grams; a penny is 2.500; not sure exactly what range is allowed). Also a dime weighs 2.268 grams, a quarter is 5.670, and a half dollar is 11.340 so $20 worth of any of those three coins should be 1 pound (with pretty good accuracy, especially if the coins are uncirculated). Better than butter!
  • Post #25 - November 3rd, 2014, 9:12 am
    Post #25 - November 3rd, 2014, 9:12 am Post #25 - November 3rd, 2014, 9:12 am
    The King Arthur Flour blog covers calibrating your measuring cups:

    http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/201 ... ring-cups/
  • Post #26 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:28 pm
    Post #26 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:28 pm Post #26 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:28 pm
    HI,

    I haven't had a potato in the house for over a week. So often I want to grab one only to remember I don't have any.

    Today at Aldi's, I slipped a 10-pound bag of potatoes into the cart. When I went through checkout, I asked them to weigh it. They can't, they have no scale at checkout. What about the bananas? I was shown a zebra code, which reflected the weight of the package. They only scan at the register, no weighing and calculating.

    I bought the potatoes anyway. I weighed them at home to find they were 10 pounds 7 ounces.

    Good for my side!
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #27 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:29 pm
    Post #27 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:29 pm Post #27 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:29 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:
    I bought the potatoes anyway. I weighed them at home to find they were 10 pounds 7 ounces.



    It's your lucky day! I hope you bought a lottery ticket. :lol:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #28 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:56 pm
    Post #28 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:56 pm Post #28 - November 3rd, 2014, 7:56 pm
    Hi- I hardly ever buy bananas at Aldi's, because they are preweighed, and you usually have to buy more than I can use at one time. I find Aldi's produce to be variable. It used to all be awful, but sometimes now you can get some half way decent stuff in the produce section. I noticed that they even had some fingerling potatoes on sale this last week, although they were still I believe $1.99 a pound
  • Post #29 - June 23rd, 2018, 10:12 pm
    Post #29 - June 23rd, 2018, 10:12 pm Post #29 - June 23rd, 2018, 10:12 pm
    Hi,

    I encountered an under trained service person in a cheese store the other day. I initially ordered a pound of cheese. She picked up a big chunk and was about to cut into it. I suggested she weigh it first to know where she was beginning from. "It weighs two pounds 60 ounces." That is not possible. She did not understand how to cut a one pound piece from a 2 lb 6 oz piece. I ended up taking 1 lb 2 oz piece home. We needed to adjust the price, because there is a higher price for sliced cheese and lower for chunks. She had begun with the sliced cheese price, because she had to cut it.

    I ordered a second piece of cheese requesting 12 ounces. I said the small chunk on top might be just enough, because she put it aside to reach for the larger underneath. I asked her to weigh the small piece first. She provided an answer suggesting it was eight ounces. I then suggested she weigh the large piece before cutting into it. She did, then we discussed where she might cut to get the four ounces I needed.

    She then packaged up the two pieces into one bag and slapped a label indicating it weighed one pound. At this point a colleague began to pay attention. I asked him to weigh the larger piece (originally the small piece) to learn it weighed the 12 ounces I wanted from the beginning.

    In the past, I would request what I wanted, then surveyed the other cheeses. I was always getting a bit more than I really wanted. I will probably be watching their weighing practices more in the future.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #30 - June 23rd, 2018, 10:36 pm
    Post #30 - June 23rd, 2018, 10:36 pm Post #30 - June 23rd, 2018, 10:36 pm
    Sad but true, Cathy and unfortunately it's a lot more common than one might expect. At my place of business we ask applicable applicants the following question during their interviews:

    "What is three quarters plus one half?

    It's surprising and depressing how many experienced people cannot answer this seemingly basic question.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

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