October 10, 2008


New rules to boost meat prices in California

Californians will now have to pay more for meat as new federal weight standards go into effect, according to California's Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on Wednesday (October 8, 2008).


The new standards rule that liquids inside meat packages must be considered part of the product for which consumers pay. Previously, state regulators excluded the liquids for package weight – an approach called "wet tare".


For some years, California has been the only state in the US using the wet tare technique, the CDFA said.


The new standard – "dry tare" – subtracts only the dry weight of any packaging, and will cost a family of four purchasing meat five times per week about a dollar more per week, the agency said.


Official estimations based on a 2006 survey said the rule change could cost Californians US$246 million a year in higher food costs.


Consumer advocate Tim Duffy said that means consumers have to pay an additional US$52 per year, which an " average family of four, especially in the current economy, could find a lot better use for".


The CDFA said its 2006 survey of meat processors found that in order to meet previous wet tare requirements, processors were over-packing, giving Californians an average of 1.39-percent more meat than indicated on the package, and 0.43-percent more poultry.

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