3OYS: Sea of violations uncovered by Dept. of Weights & Measures

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- When you buy a package of shrimp and it says 2 lbs., how do you really know its 2 lbs.? 

That's what the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures wanted to know.

The agency performed surprise inspections at 36 retail stores across Arizona and discovered big discrepancies in what consumers were getting.  One of the problems was that customers were being charged for the weight of the packaging surrounding the shrimp.
Shawn Marquez is with Weights and Measures and says that's just not right.

"You can't charge someone by the pound for the packaging material. You can't charge them for a Styrofoam tray for a soaker for all of that stuff," said Marquez.

Using special scales and other equipment, inspectors opened up all kinds of different shrimp, some shipped in from overseas and delivered to grocers. 

They then drained and removed the packaging and any surrounding water.  After weighing the shrimp, the agency discovered only 77 percent of the grocery stores actually passed the inspection.

Among the Valley violators was Albertsons in Tempe. Their 350 to 500 count packaged Oregon shrimp was light.

At Food City in Phoenix the 21 to 25 count packaged Great American Seafood uncooked shrimp packed in Vernon California was short. Also in violation, Safeway in Scottsdale and Surprise. The culprit was a labeling violation.

And at another Safeway in Surprise, the 2 lbs. package of sea best raw shrimp was short weight.

To protect themselves, Marquez says consumers should look closely for something called tare on the label.

“If you see something that says zero on there you've got problems, where it's got tare you've got problems, and that's where you want your viewers to call and we'll come and check it out," said Marquez.

Although the shrimp was sold from Valley grocery stores, the agency actually fined shrimp manufacturers because they're the ones who packaged, weighed and sold the shrimp to grocers.