The article linked below gives you a general idea of what many states expect you to do regarding using certified legal for trade class III scales when it comes to selling produce at a farmers market or produce stand. Generally, in most states anyone selling fruits and vegetables by weight to customers must use a state inspected legal for trade certified scale which has a certificate of conformance number. Complying with the rules takes two steps. First, the seller needs to purchase a NTEP approved legal for trade scale (our site can help you with that). Then the legal for trade scale must be inspected and approved by your individual state. See more info below.
Scales must conform to National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) standards. Scales that comply with NTEP guidelines typically will be marked with the NTEP logo and the associated accuracy class which is normally “III” with produce scales. Scales marked “not legal for trade” are not acceptable for retail use in Tennessee. Scales must also comply with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Handbook 44 (H44) which mandates tolerances, specifications and other technical requirements for all weighing and measuring devices. Both NTEP and H44 requirements are national standards utilized by the vast majority of all states. See article
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Weigh items in pounds, kilograms, or ounces
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Often consumers search for “certified scales” and they get lumped together with legal for trade NTEP Approved scales. Technically, a scale can be NTEP approved legal for trade and not be “certified”. Often times, the proper procedure for obtaining a “certified scale” is to do the following.
1. Buy a NTEP Approved Legal for Trade Scale. In most cases, you do not receive any paperwork saying your scale is “certified”. All you receive is your scale, with the certificate of conformance number (CoC#) stamped on the side of the scale.
2. Have the scale checked and calibrated in your store or at your produce stand, in other words in its final working location — by either a local scale company or the state weights & measures. At this point, in most cases, you receive paperwork showing the test results.
3. Have the state weights & measures come by and “certify” your scale and place their sticker on the scale.
So as you can see, in most cases you can search for and buy “certified scales” but they aren’t quite certified until you do a little homework upon receiving your scale. The reason for this is simple. A scale can be NTEP approved and have a CoC# but that doesn’t mean it is 100 percent accurate. Perhaps the scale was calibrated in a different region of the country and gravity has changed just enough to throw the calibration off. Suppose the delivery company decided to use your scale as a football? That can very easily throw off the calibration of a scale. That is why it is always a good idea to buy your NTEP Approved “certified scale” and get it checked and calibrated locally to ensure you comply with your state regulations.
Legal for Trade Commercial scales can cost well over $400, but if you do a little research, you won’t pay near that much for a set of high quality farmers market scales. Yes, you could get away with using a set of “household” scales, either hanging or digital, but that is ultimately not the way to establish trust and legitimacy with your customer who is buying produce from you.
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NTEP is for both Manufacturers and Consumers. NTEP, National Type Evaluation Program, is a cooperative effort between the National Conference on Weights and Measures, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, individual states in the US, and the private sector. It was created for the following purpose. Through twelve participating laboratories, NTEP evaluates the performance, operating characteristics, features and options of weighing and measuring devices against applicable standards. Essentially, it provides a one-stop evaluation process that satisfies the initial requirements for introduction of weighing and measuring devices in the U.S. Continue reading →
1. Does anyone know what/if there are regulations for what type of scale
a produce vendor uses at farmers markets?
2. Do other farmers have their scales certified by a state
Weights and Measures department?
3. Is digital better than an old mechanical hanging dial scale?
If you’re curious or new to the farmer’s market or produce stand business and need a legal for trade scale for weighing apples, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, squash and more; scroll down because we have answers to many of your questions.
First up regulations and certifications. Check with your state weights and measures standards department for the specific requirements (you should Continue reading →