Whole Foods customers in New York City are being overcharged by the gourmet grocer on dozens of pre-packaged items like veggie platters and chicken tenders, officials alleged Tuesday.
The Department of Consumer Affairs said that its inspectors had found the company’s stores throughout the city had consistently overstated the weights of 80 kinds of pre-weighed packaged products, sometimes by up to $5.00 or more.
The investigation attributed the mislabeling to either inaccurate weighing or a lack of weighing at all. Other items that were overpriced included fish and nuts.
“Our inspectors tell me this is the worst case of mislabeling they have seen in their careers,” DCA Commissioner Julie Menin said in a press release. “As a large chain grocery store, Whole Foods has the money and resources to ensure greater accuracy and to correct what appears to be a widespread problem–the city’s shoppers deserve to be correctly charged.”
Whole Foods said it was “vigorously defending” the company from what it called “overreaching allegations” made by the DCA. The company also said it had initially cooperated with the investigation until the DCA demanded a monetary settlement to the dispute.
“We disagreed with the amount and a short time later the investigation became public,” said spokesman Michael Sinatra in an email to amNewYork. “Because we hope the DCA will be willing to actually engage in constructive conversations in the future instead of issuing press releases, we are not going to divulge the amount of the demand at this time.”
The DCA says it could fine the company as much as $950 for falsely labeling a package for the first violation, and up to $1,700 for each subsequent violation.