Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures May Update

Written By: Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures May Update
Published: May 6, 2019

Product Labeling Requirements Identity, Responsibility, Quantity (IRQ)

In 1939, California’s legislative body adopted the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act into state law. The Fair Package and Labeling Act requires manufacturers of packaged commodities to meet minimum product label standards. The most important of these standards is the I.R.Q. statement. The “identity, responsibility, and quantity” of the product must be clearly stated on the label, allowing consumers the ability to make informed decisions about what they chose to purchase.

The product’s identity statement identifies what is in the package. The manufacturer must include the commonly known or usual name of that commodity. The identity of the commodity must be included on the package’s principal display panel, the principal front facing packaging real estate. As an example, “Kleenex” is not a product description but rather a brand. Facial tissue would be the correct product description for that commodity. The responsibility statement requires that the label contain the name, complete address, and zip code of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor of the product. In the event of public safety concerns regarding a particular product, regulators and consumers should be able to quickly identify and contact the manufacturer of the product. This is especially important for commodities intended for human consumption. Existing law allows a manufacturer to omit their street address from the label if their full address is listed in a current directory (phone book). The law was recently updated to allow a manufacturer to omit their street address from the product’s label if the complete address is listed on a public website or any other well known, widely published, publicly available resource.

The quantity statement provides the amount of product a package contains, and it allows the consumer the ability to value compare competing products. Manufacturers must label their products with an accurate quantity statement that does not include the weight of the packaging. Charging for the product’s package is illegal. In most cases, the label must contain the quantity statement in both US customary units and metric units. Manufacturers must label products in the form of liquids with liquid units of measure such as fluid ounces, pints, quarts, or gallons (liter in metric units). Products in a solid state are required to be measured in units of mass such as the ounce or pound (gram or kilogram in metric units). Manufacturers generally label semi-viscous products such as mustard or ketchup in a common industry standard for that particular product, which may be either liquid or mass units.

Weights and Measures Inspectors routinely inspect products found for sale in local businesses and are obligated by California law to order any noncompliant products “offsale”. Before products are allowed back on to store shelves, manufacturers must correct the products label or face possible penalties. Our office reviews all labeling violations and may pursue administrative penalty remedies depending on the severity and frequency of the violations.

Update: Pesticide Use Near Public Schools And Licensed Day Care Centers

This regulation began January 1, 2018, and requires growers (agricultural production sites) to notify K-12 public schools and licensed day care centers of anticipated pesticide use for the next fiscal year (July 1-June 30). These notifications are required to be submitted annually to the school sites by April 30th of each year. Last year the growers of Sonoma County did a great job of submitting their school site notifications. This is a friendly reminder that the notifications are due to school site administrators.

If you have not submitted your School Site Notifications for the fiscal year, 2019/2020 please do so as soon as possible.

The easiest way to submit your notifications is by using the CalAgPermits program. If you do not have an account for this program please contact us, and we will set one up for you.

On your homepage for CalAgPermits, there is a box titled “School Notifications.” This is where you can review your current school site submission status, make amendments when necessary, and submit your notifications for the next fiscal year. Remember, there is a requirement to amend your pesticide list if you add a new product that was not on your original notification. This amendment is required 48 hours prior to using the new product.

Please contact the Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures if you have questions about this regulation.


Inspection Of Green-Growing Grapevines

As the rainy season ends, growers will be receiving shipments of green-growing grapevines for replanting and for new plantings. The Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures (AWM) is aware that these grapevines are an excellent source for the introduction of pests and diseases, such as vine mealybug (VMB). AWM is not only offering our inspection services but also requesting that all growers who receive grapevines notify us and we will come out and inspect.

One of the fundamental responsibilities of AWM is to protect the County from the introduction and spread of injurious insect pests and plant diseases. Yes, VMB is already present in Sonoma County, but we would like to limit its distribution and thwart any new introductions.

Depending on the source of the grapevines that are being shipped, many are already entering Sonoma County with a “Hold for Inspection” tag. The most common situation of this is when the shipping grapevine nursery is located in an area of California that is in the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) quarantine area. Local growers are required to notify AWM and request an inspection when these grapevines arrive. Also, due to a Sonoma County ordinance pertaining to the Western Grapeleaf Skeletonizer (WGLS), all green-growing grapevines entering the county should include certification and be held for inspection. The bottom line is, please hold all incoming shipments of green-growing grapevines for inspection by AWM. We will inspect them, for not only GWSS and WGLS, but also other pests and diseases, such as VMB. We will also follow up with the shipping nursery if their paperwork is not complete. And yes, if our inspectors find VMB or other serious pests or diseases, the shipment will be rejected.

Please help the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures prevent any future introductions of VMB. The short-term inconvenience of holding green-growing grapevines for us to inspect prior to planting is undoubtedly less troublesome than the longterm management of this insect pest.

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