New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs accuses Whole Foods of “routinely” overpricing food sold by weight.

  • On June 24, 2015, New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) announced that an investigation into prices of prepackaged food at Whole Foods Markets in the city uncovered “systemic” overcharging for pre-packaged foods.  DCA tested packages of 80 different types of foods, including meats, dairy, nuts, and baked goods, and found all of the products were mislabeled as to weight.
  • According to the NYC DCA, 89% of the packages tested do not meet the federal standards established by the Department of Commerce and administered by the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the maximum amount that an individual package can deviate from the stated weight.  As reflected in U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance, FDA may take action against products where the average actual net weight is at little as one percent less than the declared net weight.
  • NYC’s penalty for falsely labeling a product is up to $950 for the first infraction and $1,700 for others thereafter; according to DCA, Whole Foods “potentially committed thousands of violations in its nine New York City locations.”  In 2012, Whole Foods face similar allegations from city attorneys of Santa Monica, San Diego, and Los Angeles, and ultimately agreed to pay an $800,000 fine.  These incidents serve as a powerful reminder to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of the importance of implementing robust compliance measures to guard against short filling.