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The Barbecue Bill

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House Bill 2029 is officially titled Weights and Scales in Restaurants, but a spokesman for the office of Representative J.M. Lozano, who filed the bill, has a more succinct moniker: the barbecue bill.

The bill, which will go before the House on Tuesday, looks at the Texas Department of Agriculture’s scale inspections and certifications at barbecue joints and other eating establishments that sell their food by weight, such as frozen yogurt shops. We wrote about the TDA’s heightened enforcement efforts, also known as Operation Maverick, earlier this year, and the resulting increase of fees placed on barbecue joints. Lozano is a small business owner, and his website bio assures us that he “understands the problems of overreaching government regulations,” which is why he wants to eliminate the scale inspections and certifications.

The bill would amend the Texas Agriculture Code regarding scale inspections. The new language reads: “Notwithstanding any other law, a commercial weighing or measuring device that is exclusively used to weigh food sold for immediate consumption is exempt…”In other words, not deli or butcher counters at the grocery store. This is meant for restaurants selling food by weight.

The Texas Restaurant Association has more details on the bill. They argue that “the need for a restaurant to have a certified scale visible to the consumer is an antiquated and unnecessary burden to the restaurant industry.” If a majority of the Legislature agrees, the bill will go into effect on September 1.

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  • Em Q Davis

    This is a plain invitation to cheat the customer. And even when a food preparer is trying to do right, “eyeballing” a hunk or pile of food that’s supposed to be a certain weight won’t be accurate! Alternatively, pre-weighing and pre-packaging is a horrible idea, especially for BBQ. Leave things as they are!

    • It’s not like barbecue joints are going to throw away their scales. If the bill passes, they just won’t need to pay a certification fee and subsequent annual registration fees when they buy a new scale.

  • Nick

    You have to be kidding.

  • Matthew

    But then how am I as the consumer going to know and trust that when I buy a pound of meat that it is actually a pound and not less but their scale is off?

    • Chances are that for most of your life your favorite barbecue joint used a scale that wasn’t certified by the state.

  • RockportDon

    My standard to-go order is a pound of fat end brisket and a pound of pork ribs.
    Usually my orders are spot on or a little bit to the heavy side, but I have also opened my package to discover two pounds of brisket and once I received just two medium size ribs to represent a pound of weight.
    Telling a bbq vendor he does not need an accurate scale and not to worry because nobody is ever going to check it is madness and inviting trouble. I want a system which is fair and honest to both sides of the transaction. I do not expect the vendor to give away his product and I expect fair weight for my order.
    The law will be a legal nightmare. What is immediate consumption? If I buy a whole brisket and take it home to my freezer for 2 weeks, is that immediate consumption?

  • I nominate Daniel to carry around a scale and keep us posted on anyone who is shorting. He’s going to be everywhere anyway. 🙂

  • 1. If you dont trust the BBQ joint you’re going to eat at… then simply don’t go to that particular BBQ joint.

    2. BBQ joints are still going to scale the weight of BBQ ordered.

    3. Any BBQ joint trying to scale the ranks and likes of a Franlin BBQ or Mueller BBQ in Taylor are not in the habbit of ripping customers off. Would be social media death to their business.

    Johnny
    Tubbe’s Bar-B-Q Sauce Co.

  • M

    The annual renewal fee is less than $40, a pittance that will NOT make or break any bbq joint! Overreaching government regulation? Gimme a break/get off your highhorse — there are plenty of other regs more deserving to complain about than this little one.

  • jrmygstn

    Seems like everyone is missing a huge point. They’re strong arming business owners during their busiest time of their day – using fear tactics in a high stress moment. Then they tell them which vendor to pay, versus giving them a list of compliant scale retailers. And keep them on the hook paying annually for something that, by and large, most BBQ joints already manage well.