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Your tax dollars at work - Consumer protection from Va. Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services

On any given day, consumers receive products or services from an establishment that is regulated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Establishments such as grocery stores, gas stations, garden centers, frozen dessert shops and bingo halls work with VDACS to ensure they follow laws and regulations intended to protect consumers.

Consumer protection is a VDACS core priority. The agency is charged with ensuring integrity within the marketplace. The Federal Trade Commission established National Consumer Protection Week, March 1-7, to encourage people and businesses to learn more about avoiding scams, understanding consumer rights and highlighting free resources to help protect consumers.

“I am proud of the work that VDACS’ employees perform on a daily basis to protect consumers. While much of this work occurs out of the public eye, it does help ensure that Virginia consumers and businesses can conduct commerce on a fair and level playing field,” said Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, VDACS Commissioner.

In observance of National Consumer Protection Week, here are highlights of the many ways VDACS protects consumers:

Protecting the Food People Eat

Food safety inspectors ensure that food and dietary supplements in Virginia are safe and properly labeled. Food establishments that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for sale such as convenience stores, grocery stores, frozen dessert shops and seafood markets receive regular periodic inspections in accordance with Virginia food laws and related regulations.

Meat and poultry inspectors ensure the production of safe and truthfully labeled meat and poultry products, and verify that livestock is processed humanely.

Dairy inspectors assess farms to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of milk and dairy products per Virginia dairy laws and related regulations.

Ensuring Safety and Value in the Products People Buy

Weights and measures inspectors maintain the integrity of transactions between buyers and sellers and prevent unfair competition among regulated industries by testing commercially used weighing and measuring equipment and investigating consumer complaints. The inspectors use highly accurate field standards and equipment to test commercial scales, meters and scanning equipment and check the weight of packaged products. Inspectors are also responsible for testing the accuracy of fuel pumps and sampling of motor fuels.

The Office of Pesticide Services registers more than 15,000 pesticide products in Virginia each year, licenses pesticide businesses and certifies pesticide applicators to provide for the effective control of pests that may negatively affect crops, structures and health.

The Milk Commission licenses all processors and distributors of fluid milk products in Virginia to ensure everyone has a constant, available and reasonably priced supply of milk.

The Office of Plant Industry Services inspects more than 7,500 acres of nursery stock to prevent the spread of weeds, insects, and other disease pests. More than 2,500 nurseries and nursery stock dealers are registered to operate within Virginia.

Safeguarding the Services People Receive

VDACS staff advise consumers and act as a resource for consumer complaint resolution for businesses that offer extended service contracts, credit services, health club contracts, campground memberships, prepaid legal services plan sellers and travel club contracts. These businesses must adhere to Virginia law.
 
The Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs is responsible for issuing and renewing gaming permits to organizations, as well as the regulation of charitable gaming activities in the Commonwealth. In fiscal year 2018-2019, the office issued approximately 290 gaming permits. They also perform on-site training and operational inspections of bingo events and initiate compliance audits of organizations that conduct charitable gaming.
 
Organizations that solicit contributions in Virginia or have funds solicited on their behalf, must register with VDACS prior to any solicitation. The agency investigates consumer complaints and maintains a public database of registered charitable organizations.

Visit http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov and click on the “consumers” button to learn more about how VDACS protects consumers or to report a problem with a product or service

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