The Measurement Standards Program provides consumer protection and promotes equity and integrity in the marketplace. Both buyer and seller rely on accurate measurement and pricing during commercial transactions.
Through enforcement of the Colorado Measurement Standards Act, a large percentage of the commerce in Colorado is covered by Measurement Standards, also known as Weights and Measures.
The Measurement Standards Program establishes and enforces the method of sale for a given commodity when an existing practice does not promote value comparison.
The State Metrology Laboratory is the custodian of Colorado's official standards and provides metrology services to both public and private sectors. Mass, length, volume, time, frequency, and grain moisture standards are calibrated.
Law Enforcement Device Certification
The Measurement Standards Section's Metrology Laboratory provides inspection and testing of standards of weights and measures used by law enforcement agencies in Colorado.
Specifications, Tolerances and Other Technical Requirements published in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Handbook 44 apply to law enforcement devices. See the Colorado Measurement Standards Act (MSA), Sections 35-14-105 and 35-14-107 (g).
Law enforcement devices inspected and tested include:
- scales used for the weighing of evidence,
- tuning forks used to calibrate radar units,
- tape measures and
- LASER traffic speed units.
Method of Sale
To facilitate value comparison, and to address deceptive and misleading sales practices, the Measurement Standards Program is responsible for establishing and enforcing the method of sale used for commodities in Colorado. This is done under authority of the Colorado Measurement Standards Act (MSA), 35-14, CRS, specifically Section 107 (1) (m) and Section 107 (1) (o). ICS multiple inspectors are charged with enforcement of method of sale requirements in the marketplace.
Packaging and Labeling
Specific requirements for the packaging and labeling of commodities in Colorado are detailed on the Commodities - Packaging and Labeling page of this Internet site. Before reviewing that information, the packer should determine the allowable method of sale (weight, measure, or count) for the commodity in question. We also provide information on allowable methods of sale for specific commodities.
If you would like to renew your license online, please visit AgLicense. You will need your AgLicense ID number and Pin to initially set up your account. If you already have an AgLicense account, you can sign in with your username and password. If you do not have this information, please call 303-869-9090. You can also submit a paper Application for License to Operate Scales/Measuring Devices along with your payment.
- Package & label inspection information
Information for retailers on the necessary documentation needed for a small package inspection and what to expect.
IMAGE Packaged commodities are routinely inspected in retail and wholesale establishments throughout Colorado to ensure they are labeled properly and that the package accurately contains the quantity as stated on the label. The labeled net weight may not include the weight of the package or of any packaging materials.
In addition to label reviews for compliance with labeling requirements, ICS multiple inspectors use procedures set forth in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) Handbook 133 to determine whether packages contain the amounts represented.
What to expect during an inspection:
- The Inspector needs to have ready access to a clean table in a work area.
- The Inspector may need to open two (2) packages of product in order to determine the package tare of each product being tested.
- Inspectors select a number of packages and weigh them on certified scales to be sure the package is labeled with an accurate quantity statement.
- Liquid products are similarly inspected to ensure the packages contain the correct volume, as stated on the label.
- Short weight products are taken off sale and a violation may be written by the inspector.
- Civil penalties are issued on if the packer is on site. If the company is located somewhere other than where the packages are sold, the fine is mailed.
The Measurement Standards Section is responsible for inspecting and verifying whether packaged commodities sold in Colorado contain the amounts represented, and for enforcing package labeling requirements, including truth in labeling requirements.
This is done under the authority of the Measurement Standards Act, 35-14, CRS,Section 107 (1) (c), Section 107 (1) (h), Section 107 (1) (k), Section 107 (1) (l), Section 107 (1) (n) and Section 107 (1) (o)
- Price verification inspection information
Information for retailers on what to expect from a price verification inspection.
Many stores use cash register scanners to input prices of items purchased by consumers. Price verification tests (scan tests) are done in stores throughout the state on a routine basis by ICS multiple inspectors. Inspectors test scanner pricing accuracy at retail locations throughout the state, with verification at the checkout stand of posted prices on signs, shelf tags and advertisements.
What to expect during an inspection:
- If one is available, the inspector needs access to a portable scanner for price verification.
- If a portable scanner is not available, the inspector will need to bring a specified number of randomly chosen items to a checkout.
- These items will then be scanned and the price recorded on a register tape.
- At the completion of the scan test, the inspector will need a voided receipt to verify any overcharges/undercharges.
- At that point the store manager (or any other responsible party) will be required to verify the recorded overcharges/undercharges with the inspector and take the appropriate action to resolve the pricing issues.
- Misrepresentation of a price is a violation of Section 35-14-111 of the Colorado Measurement Standards Act (MSA). If more than 2% of prices checked are overcharges, a civil penalty is issued and the test is repeated soon after the failure.
- All overcharges found must be corrected.
In addition, our office investigates consumer complaints.
The Examination Procedure for Price Verification is in Handbook 130 published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) .
Unit Pricing Requirements
Provision is made for uniform unit pricing (price per ounce, for example) and for unit pricing on random weight packages. See Sections 35-14-117 and Sections 35-14-120 of the MSA.
- If one is available, the inspector needs access to a portable scanner for price verification.
- Labeling requirement information
Information for manufacturers on what is required on a product label in Colorado.
General Labeling Requirements
Packages must be labeled with:
- A statement of identity - a definite, plain description that positively identifies what the commodity is. See section 2.1 (a) and Sections 3.1-3.3 of the Packaging and Labeling regulations .
- The net quantity of the contents in terms of weight, measure or count. To see what method of sale to use, refer to Commodities - Method of Sale.
- The name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer or distributor. If the street address of the business is shown in a current directory, the city, state and ZIP code are sufficient. See Section 35-14-118 of the, Section 2.1 (c) and Section 3.4 of the Packaging and Labeling Regulations, MSA
Specific requirements for the labeling of packaged commodities are in the Sections 35-14-118 to 120 of the MSA and in the Packaging and Labeling Regulations.
Additional Labeling Requirements
- Inch pound and metric systems.
- Either one or both of these systems must be used for all commercial purposes in Colorado See Section 35-14-103 of the MSA.
- English required.
- Unless an interpreter is available at the place of sale, English must be used for all required labeling. See Section 9.1 of the Packaging and Labeling Regulations.
- Location and prominence.
- Required label information must be definite, plain and conspicuous. The net quantity statement generally must be located in the bottom 30% of the principal display panel. See sections 9.1 and 9.2 of the Packaging and Labeling Regulations.
- No qualifying terms allowed in quantity statement.
- "One pound minimum," "eight ounces before baking" and "one jumbo gallon" are not allowed. See Section 7 of the Packaging and Labeling Regulations.
- "Net Weight" or "Net Wt."
- Net weight declarations must include "Net Weight" or "Net Wt" before or after the declaration of net weight. See Section 5.5 of the Packaging and Labeling Regulations.
- Combination declarations.
- Example: both weight and count may be required on the labeling of some commodities, if both are necessary to be fully informative. See Section 5.7 (a) of the Packaging and Labeling Regulations.
Program Brochure: Questions & Answers on the Colorado Weights & Measures Law
The Colorado Office of Policy, Research and Regulatory Reform is currently conducting a sunset review of the Measurement Standards Program. Analysis is performed to determine if the program is necessary and should be continued, modified, or cease operations. To provide input on this review, please visit their website at http://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/real/OPR_Review_Comments.Main
Laws and Regulations
Colorado Revised Statutes are made available for public use by the Committee on Legal Services of the Colorado General Assembly through a contractual arrangement with the LexisNexis Group. Any person wishing to reprint and distribute all or a substantial part of the statutes in either printed or electronic format must obtain prior permission of the Committee on Legal Services; permission is not required to reprint fewer than 200 sections of C.R.S. (please see §2-5-118, C.R.S.).
The Lexis Nexis website is the only official source of the Colorado Revised Statutes.
Instructions for using Lexis Nexis
Title 35, Article 14: Measurement Standards Law, Sections 35-14-101 to 35-14-134
- Q: How is the Colorado consumer protected by the Measurement Standards Program?
A: The Colorado Department of Agriculture is charged with enforcing the Colorado Measurement Standards Act. Measurement Standards inspectors certify commercially used scales and devices, test packages to ensure consumers receive at least the quantity stated on the label, and check prices in stores throughout Colorado to ensure that consumers are not overcharged.
- Q: How does Measurement Standards ensure fairness in the marketplace?
A: Measurement Standards oversight promotes a fair market environment by promoting voluntary compliance through education of businesses whenever possible. Our mission is also accomplished in part by penalizing companies that use unfair business practices that are in violation of the Colorado Measurement Standards Act. Some of these unfair practices are: 1) False, misleading, or inadequate product labeling, 2) Offering short measure products for sale, 3) Misrepresenting the price of a product and 4) Using a scale (or other measuring device) that is inaccurate or not of the correct type.
- Q: Who enforces the Colorado Measurement Standards Act?
A: There are sixteen inspectors who regularly certify scales, check packages and do scan tests throughout the state. The Program Managers are based in our Denver offices. The state Metrology Laboratory is also located at our Denver office. The Metrology Laboratory certifies weights used to inspect and certify commercially used scales, as well as devices used by law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado.
- Q: What if I am overcharged?
A: Misrepresentation of a price is a violation of the Colorado Measurement Standards Act. Price verification tests (scan tests) are done in stores throughout the state on a routine basis. If more than 2% of prices checked are overcharges, a fine may be issued and the test is repeated soon after the failure. All overcharges found must be corrected. In addition, our office investigates consumer complaints.
- Q: What happens if there is not as much of a product in the package as the label says?
A: If a product is short weight (or short volume, count or measure), it is a violation of the Colorado Measurement Standards Act. Package testing is routinely done by weights & measures inspectors in stores throughout Colorado. Short weight products are issued stop sale orders and violations may be written by our inspectors. These are issued on the spot if the packer is on site. If the company is located somewhere other than where the packages are sold, the fine is mailed.
- Q: Who checks the weights used by weights & measures?
A: All weights & measures are certified yearly by the State Metrology laboratory, located at our Denver office. This lab is charged as official keeper of the state's standards. Periodically, the state standards are sent to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to be checked.
- Q: Do products have to be labeled?
A: All prepackaged products sold in Colorado must have certain things on the label. The product must be positively identified. The amount of product you are getting must be declared. A responsible party must be listed on the label.
- Q: Do you check gas stations?
A: No. They are inspected by the Oil and Public Safety Division of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. They can be reached at (303) 318-8500.
National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
- NIST promotes uniformity in U.S. weights and measures laws, regulations, and standards to achieve equity between buyers and sellers in the marketplace.
- NIST Handbook 44
- NIST Handbook 130
- NIST Handbook 133
- NIST National Voluntary Lab Accreditation Program
- NIST Tips for Consumers
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
- ANSI coordinates the development and use of voluntary consensus standards in the United States and represents the needs and views of U.S. stakeholders in standardization forums around the globe.
- ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world-a trusted source for technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services.
BIPM (Bureau International des Poids et Mesures)
The task of the BIPM is to ensure world-wide uniformity of measurements and their traceability to the International System of Units.
- Assuring consumers that at least 50 percent of the wood in their listed products come from Colorado forests.
Food Safety & Inspection Service (USDA)
- The Labeling & Consumer Protection Staff (LCPS) develops policies and inspection methods and administers programs to protect consumers from misbranded and economically adulterated meat, poultry, and egg products.
FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- The FTC deals with issues that touch the economic lives of most Americans. In fact, the agency has a long tradition of maintaining a competitive marketplace for both consumers and businesses.
Fair Packaging & Labeling Act (FTC)
International Organization of Legal Metrology
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
International Society of Weighing & Measurement (ISWM)
- ISWM members include manufacturers and dealers/distributors of weighing equipment, state weights and measures officials and industry end users.
NCWM (National Conference on Weights and Measures)
- The standard for fairness in the marketplace.
SMA (Scale Manufacturers Association)
- The Association was established by scale industry leaders in 1945 to provide a permanent instrumentality for coordinating the efforts of many individuals in the best interest of the public; the owners and users of scales, and scale manufacturers.
US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) Alcohol and Tobacco Product Information.
Western Weights and Measures Association (WWMA)
- An Association to promote equity in the marketplace in the exchange of goods and services by weight, measure or count; to provide technical and administrative education and act as a source of information.
Contact the Measurement Standards Program for small scale commercial device questions, retail questions, Certified Weigher questions, and large scale commercial device licensing questions.
Scales with capacities greater than 1,000 lb are tested by the Colorado Department of Agriculture's Large Scale Inspectors. These inspections include large capacity, belt conveyer and railroad scales. They also perform water tank and meter inspections.
Phone number: (719) 250-1851
Fax number: (303) 466-2860
Phone number: (303) 869-9101
Fax number: (303) 466-2860