Barnaby Ofori, from the Department of Weights and Measures, watches as Rose Ray, assistant head meat cutter at Kroger in Urbana, weighs a turkey on the meat department scale Tuesday. Staff photo by Bill Lackey
Photo: Bill Lackey
Photo: Bill Lackey

County begins weighing turkeys before holiday

Most shoppers who pick up a Thanksgiving turkey probably don’t put much thought into the accuracy of their grocer’s scales.

But in the last few weeks staff from the Champaign County Auditor’s office have been working with local businesses to make sure customers get what they pay for when they put a turkey in their cart. Inspectors from the office check any items sold by weight or measurement throughout the year to assure that the price on items is what is being scanned into the register.

Berneby Ofori, a member of the auditor’s weights and measures staff, visited Urbana’s Kroger store Tuesday morning. After checking the accuracy of the store’s scales, Ofori said a he picks a random sample of turkeys to make sure the prices and weights of the products are accurate. All turkeys must meet or exceed the labeled weight.

“You pick about 25 pieces at random and check it and see if it’s failed or passed,” Ofori said.

Staff members also observe checkout scanners at each store to make sure prices scanned match the price tag customers pay. County staff members are certified to do the testing on a number of items through a lengthy process that includes a series of 12 tests and can take as long as three years to complete. Staff members also inspect gas pumps, scales at farmer’s markets and grain elevators and other items to make sure they dispense the exact amount reflected on the display.

The practice helps protect customers from accidental or intentional deceit, said Karen Bailey, Champaign County auditor.

“It’s good for both sides,” said Wayne Spiegel, associate manager of the Urbana Kroger location. “The consumers want it right.”

If a scale is inaccurate, Bailey said her office can notify store managers and order it to be adjusted. The scales can also be shut down if they are particularly inaccurate, although that has not been an issue locally.

“We really haven’t had a lot of problems like that and we’ve never had to shut a scale down,” Bailey said.

When testing a fresh or frozen turkey, Bailey said many customers also likely aren’t aware the “tare,” or inedible parts of the turkey are deducted from the price, meaning only the edible portions can be weighed.

“If you can’t eat it, you can’t be charged for it,” Bailey said.

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