Issue Page: Weights and Scales in Restaurants

Weights and Scales in Restaurants
HB 2029 - Rep. JM Lozano
The BBQ Bill

TRA's Position

Many types of restaurants and eating establishments sell food by weight (BBQ, salad bars, yogurt shops, sandwich establishments that sell sandwiches by weight). Restaurants that sell items by weight often times do not have a scale that is visible to the consumer because the scale is located behind a counter, in the kitchen or another place outside of the plain view of the consumer. Oftentimes, a restaurant that sells items by weight does not have countertop space available to place a scale, including establishments with drive-thru windows and traditional table service. Requiring scales to be visible to consumers could force a restaurateur to incur substantial costs to redesign pay stations, countertops, or service areas to accommodate a scale.

Issue Overview

Texas Agriculture Code currently requires all businesses that sell items by weight to have legal-for-trade scales certified and inspected by the Department of Agriculture. Along with the registered scales, the Department requires a certification sticker that must be visible to the consumer.

In the last two years, the Department of Agriculture has increased its inspections of businesses that sell items by weight to ensure that all businesses have weights and scales properly certified and that each certified scale contains a consumer sticker that is visible to the consumer.

The need for a restaurant to have a certified scale visible to the consumer is an antiquated and unnecessary burden to the restaurant industry. There have been very little, if any, documented consumer complaints about a restaurant, either intentionally or inadvertently, not providing the amount of food advertised or paid for. Restaurateurs are in the hospitality business and understand the need for good customer service. A restaurateur faced with a consumer complaint about the weight of a food serving will, in most cases, give the customer extra food or another meal.

The need for certified scales is unnecessary in the restaurant industry because restaurants are regularly inspected (1-2 times a year) by the local health department. Local health department inspectors often inspect food delivered to check to make sure that the weight of food that is served corresponds to what is advertised on menus. Any deceptive advertising or inaccurate weight measures or descriptions may be subject to health inspection review.

Bill's Intent

HB 2029 will exempt establishments that serve food for immediate consumption from the requirement that certified and registered scales be maintained in an establishment that serves food by weight. Establishments that sell fresh produce, food by bulk, or other food not served for immediate consumption would not be exempt from this legislation.

Status

HB 2029 was filed on February 17, 2017 by Representative Jose Lozano. 

Additional Reading

Weighing Your Options; State Targets Barbeque Scales | Texas Monthly BBQ | January 25, 2017