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Meat market etiquette


shelora
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I have always thought that when buying meat or even fish, that it is always weighed first, then wrapped.

One of my local butchers has started wrapping then weighing. Is this right? I know that the paper can't weigh that much to make a difference, but somehow it is really, really bothering me.

I don't know how to bring it up with him. Anybody?

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Seems bizarre to me.

Anyone who sells by weight should let you see the weight (and price!) before wrapping. What if they guessed wrong and you needed another 1/4 pound? Do they give you another package?

-Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I can't see a good butcher wrapping and then weighing the meat. That's just wrong in my books and I think you should call them on it. It may not make a difference on something that's say 2.99 a lb, but about that Prime Rib that's 22.99 a lb. I'm not paying for the bloody wrapping. Sorry...ranting....must stop. My biggest dissapointment in life is seeing the current state of butcher shops. It truly saddens me, I mean, you can barely find a butcher shop with sawdust on the floors.

I would definitely say something to them and don't hestitate to bring it up.

Deb, they should be using a very thin piece of wax paper that scale is adjusted for. At least that's what used to happen in my dad's shop and that's what Windsor still does.

**Edited to add the bit for Deb.

Edited by peppyre (log)
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I have always thought that when buying meat or even fish, that it is always weighed first, then wrapped.

One of my local butchers has started wrapping then weighing. Is this right? I know that the paper can't weigh that much to make a difference, but somehow it is really, really bothering me.

I don't know how to bring it up with him.  Anybody?

It weighs enough over the week for a little extra profit. My butchers scales say 0 when they have a piece of the paper used to pick the meat up. So you always get true weight. Sounds like your's want's to have a thumb on the scale. Tell him to knock it off or call the certifying agency (look for a sticker on the scale with the number).

:wink:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I utterly don't believe that the weight of butcher paper makes any significant difference regardless of the price of the meat or the length of the time being discussed. I can't conceive of a butcher trying to run up profit one sheet of butcher paper at a time.

The salient point here is that you lose the moment where the butcher slaps the meat on the scale and gives you the look, and you look over weight, the cost and the slab(s) itself and give the nod or ask, "you got anything a little bigger/smaller?"

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I utterly don't believe that the weight of butcher paper makes any significant difference regardless of the price of the meat or the length of the time being discussed.  I can't conceive of a butcher trying to run up profit one sheet of butcher paper at a time.

The salient point here is that you lose the moment where the butcher slaps the meat on the scale and gives you the look, and you look over weight, the cost and the slab(s) itself and give the nod or ask, "you got anything a little bigger/smaller?"

You need to lift a roll of butchers paper. If I can get paid for that at say $5 a lb. on average that's a profit center. Don't forget that the scales weigh in the Hundredth's and rounds up.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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You need to lift a roll of butchers paper. If I can get paid for that at say $5 a lb. on average that's a profit center. Don't forget that the scales weigh in the Hundredth's and rounds up.

Every butcher or fishmonger I've ever been to has weighed the meat or fish on top of a piece of paper. That's not to cheat the customer; it's for hygiene.

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Bizarre. You know this guy must be frigging desperate to resort to cheesy tactics like this. We're talking pennies here, aren't we? God, couldn't he just as soon take the money gleaned from the latest charity box on his counter?

He makes a damn good chorizo, and not knowing how he'll react when I bring this up - in a non-threatening, non-chalant way - maybe our relationship is coming to an end.

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I utterly don't believe that the weight of butcher paper makes any significant difference regardless of the price of the meat or the length of the time being discussed.  I can't conceive of a butcher trying to run up profit one sheet of butcher paper at a time.

The salient point here is that you lose the moment where the butcher slaps the meat on the scale and gives you the look, and you look over weight, the cost and the slab(s) itself and give the nod or ask, "you got anything a little bigger/smaller?"

You need to lift a roll of butchers paper. If I can get paid for that at say $5 a lb. on average that's a profit center. Don't forget that the scales weigh in the Hundredth's and rounds up.

I have hefted butcher paper in my time. I know that a roll of it is not light. I'm sure that, over a year, selling the butcher paper would would yied up, oh, a couple of hundred bucks. Maybe.

But any butcher so venal that they are actively trying to pad the profits with 4 cent's worth of paper per transaction is going to be fucking you over so badly on the price and quality of the meat itself that the cost of the paper is insignificant.

I maintain that it's some false sense of officiousness and decorum -- pre-wrapped crap from the Safeway/Albertsons now being our benchmark as to what meat's supposed to look like -- that drives this process.

And, if the meat's actually butcher quality-stuff, either decide that the nickel per transaction that he's "stealing" is worth the price or learn to say, politely and without accusing anybody: "Can you weigh that out for me before you wrap it? Thanks."

Bizarre. You know this guy must be frigging desperate to resort to cheesy tactics like this. We're talking pennies here, aren't we? God, couldn't he just as soon take the money gleaned from the latest charity box on his counter?

He makes a damn good chorizo, and not knowing how he'll react when I bring this up - in a non-threatening, non-chalant way - maybe our relationship is coming to an end.

Why not ask the guy "what's up?" rather than casting on-line aspersions on someone whom you haven't talked to about his "habit." He's not going to come over the counter with a filleting knife, and he might actually start to recognize when you come in, and get you better service. For all the grifters out there, nine people out of ten are actually not trying to steal from you. Give the guy a chance before you assume the worst.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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You need to lift a roll of butchers paper. If I can get paid for that at say $5 a lb. on average that's a profit center. Don't forget that the scales weigh in the Hundredth's and rounds up.

Every butcher or fishmonger I've ever been to has weighed the meat or fish on top of a piece of paper. That's not to cheat the customer; it's for hygiene.

In that case the tare is set for the paper. It weighs 0 with that paper on it. Otherwise you are being cheated.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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You need to lift a roll of butchers paper. If I can get paid for that at say $5 a lb. on average that's a profit center. Don't forget that the scales weigh in the Hundredth's and rounds up.

Every butcher or fishmonger I've ever been to has weighed the meat or fish on top of a piece of paper. That's not to cheat the customer; it's for hygiene.

In that case the tare is set for the paper. It weighs 0 with that paper on it. Otherwise you are being cheated.

That is what I have always seen too. The wrapping is put on the scale, but the scale reads 0 with the paper on it. Then the product is weighed out, taped up, and handed over.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Does he do this for all types of meat, or just for what is sold in definite portions?

There's a difference between saying, "I'd like two of those fish fillets." or "May I have four of the lamb chops, please," and "Give me a pound and a half of hamburger." The first two may reasonably be wrapped, then weighed, but the hamburger would of necessity be weighed before wrapping, cause NOBODY'S that good at estimating.

Our butcher does, however, lay the nice sheet of paper, torn from the roll in a size sufficient to wrap the parcel, onto the scales, ladle the hamburger on top, get my approval, then remove from scales and wrap. So the paper would always be figured into the equation, anyway. So where was I going with this, exactly.....?

To bed, I think. Good night. :wacko:

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You need to lift a roll of butchers paper. If I can get paid for that at say $5 a lb. on average that's a profit center. Don't forget that the scales weigh in the Hundredth's and rounds up.

Every butcher or fishmonger I've ever been to has weighed the meat or fish on top of a piece of paper. That's not to cheat the customer; it's for hygiene.

In that case the tare is set for the paper. It weighs 0 with that paper on it. Otherwise you are being cheated.

Exactly. The weight of the paper is zeroed out; that's why it's so strange and paranoid to suppose that a butcher would try to cheat his customer through the magic of heavy, heavy paper...

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They definitely should be accounting for the weight of the paper. I was a meat wrapper for a while in college, and the scale had the ability to set the tare with just the touch of a button. When I first started there I wasn't told about the tare and for a couple of days I was accidentally ripping off a couple of cents on each package. The problem was discovered quickly and I was then trained on the proper tare for each tray or paper used to contain the meat.

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I work for a grocery store corporation, and legally he is not allowed to charge you for that paper, no matter how small it is. The way it works in our stores is at the deli, for example, they put the paper on the scale, set it to zero, and then charge you for only the weight of the meat you are buying.

And it does make a difference. We found that some of the stores were using a really thin sheet of paper to save on costs. Makes sense right? since they were just going to wrap it up in heavier stuff after weighing. Well, because the scales actually didn't weigh in that small of an increment and we legally cannot charge the customer for that sheet of paper, the employees had to set the scale to a very, very small negative weight instead of zero. So each customer was getting a teensy, tiny bit of their order for free. Assuming your average item in a deli is, say $6 a pound or so, it added up to literally millions of dollars a year for the entire chain. So we actually ordered the stores to buy the more expensive, heavier weight paper because it was cheaper to do that and not lose so much on every order.

Obviously, the difference is not so striking for an independent butcher. But it does make a difference and it is illegal to charge you for that paper. However, before you call him on it, you should make sure that he's actually not subtracting the weight of the paper. I've done spot checks in stores, and sometimes since the clerks have done it so many times they weight the entire package, container and all, at once and in one motion also take off the weight of the packaging. I can tell because I'm watching them like a hawk and see that when they take the package off the scale it resets to a negative number instead of zero, but usually they set it back to zero so quickly that the average shopper would probably miss is. You just don't want to accuse your butcher of doing something illegal if he's not. Awkward, to say the least.

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I think if he's doing this to you in front of your own eyes, what do ya think he's doing where ya can't see? Find you a butcher you can trust. Chorizo has a lot of possible ingredients in it, if you catch my drift. :angry:

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At my butcher, the butcher uses a thin plastic bag like a glove to grab the meat and weigh it. Once you approve of the weight, it then gets wrapped up in heavy duty paper for you to take.

The plastic bags are so light that the cost would be insignificant. Maybe 1000 bags in a kilogram.

PS: I am a guy.

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...

Deb, they should be using a very thin piece of wax paper that scale is adjusted for.  At least that's what used to happen in my dad's shop and that's what Windsor still does.

**Edited to add the bit for Deb.

At my butcher, the butcher uses a thin plastic bag like a glove to grab the meat and weigh it. Once you approve of the weight, it then gets wrapped up in heavy duty paper for you to take.

The plastic bags are so light that the cost would be insignificant. Maybe 1000 bags in a kilogram.

This is what I see most often. The meat, seafood, etc is weighed on an extremely lightweight piece of plastic/wax paper. When the proper weight is agreed upon, this assembly is then finished with wrapping paper. With this procedure, taring is insignificant. The paper weighs a small fraction of an ounce. In any case, almost all balances have a tare feature so it is probably used even with the lightweight paper.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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