Whole Foods, one of America’s largest supermarket chains specializing in organic food, has been accused of overcharging its customers due to large-scale mislabeling of its pre-packaged products.
Organic Food is food that has been prepared, created, or raised without artificial pesticides, growth hormones, fertilizers, GMOs, etc.
According to an investigation by the Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner, the chain has committed over 800 pricing violations since 2010.
The agency commissioner Julie Menin mentions that this is the worst case of mislabeling that she has seen in her career.
As this is still an ongoing investigation it is unknown what penalties the chain will face, however, fines for wrongly priced products can be up to $1700 per item, which in this case would lead to a multi-million dollar fine for the company.
Last year, Whole Foods was penalized for pricing irregularities in its California stores and faced an $800,000 fine.
Inaccurately labeled products
The consumer affairs department looked at 80 different types of pre-packed products across 8 different stores and found that each type of products had inaccurately labels.
Breaded chicken breast packages ranged between six to nine ounces but despite their varying weight a lot of them priced at $5.99 for 7 ounces. Likewise, mini roast beef ranged between 4.5 to 5.1 ounces but some were priced at $3.49 for 3 ounces, even though they might have weight more or less than that.
A chain trying to change its image
Although the chain has been criticized by consumers for its “whole paycheck” image, the company has been lowering prices to compete with big chains like Wal-Mart and Kroger, as well as focusing on a new chain of stores for less affluent and younger consumers.
However, this latest piece of news isn’t going to help the company shake off its image.