DCP: Department Signs Compliance Agreement with Stop & Shop Company, LLC over Misbranded Ground Beef


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March 25, 2009

Department of Consumer Protection Signs Compliance Agreement with Stop & Shop Company, LLC over Misbranded Ground Beef


HARTFORD, March 25    Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr. announced today that his agency has entered into an agreement of voluntary compliance with the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, LLC of Quincy, Massachusetts, for allegations of mislabeled ground beef being offered for sale at Stop & Shop store # 623 on East Main Street in Middletown. Packages of the store’s ground beef were found to contain a higher percentage of fat than their labels stated. While admitting no wrongdoing, the Stop & Shop Company agrees to undertake good faith measures to prevent the store’s ground beef from being mislabeled, and will pay $500.00 to the Department of Consumer Protection toward the agency’s enforcement fund. 


“Consumers have a right to consistently get what they pay for, and that certainly applies to ground beef,” Farrell said. “For both economic and health reasons, the quality and fat content in ground beef must accurately reflect what is stated on the label.”


The Department alleged that during a recent routine inspection at the Middletown Stop & Shop store, inspectors selected random ground beef packages for testing to determine whether the fat content was in accordance with what was stated on the package. The beef was found to be inaccurately labeled, and a second sampling again yielded mislabeled packages of ground beef.


“For shoppers who are watching their cholesterol or their family food budget, this is simply unacceptable,” Farrell said. “When stores prepare large quantities of ground beef, variations in fat percentage can occur unintentionally, but the standards allowed by law are not unreasonable.”


Farrell indicated that if the amount of fat actually in the ground beef sample exceeded the amount stated on the label by 20% or more, it was considered non-compliant.


The current round of random ground beef testing continues from an initiative launched last December, when the Department sampled and tested the fat content of ground beef sold at numerous Connecticut grocery stores. Of thirty (30) samples, 6 (six) contained a significantly higher percentage of fat than stated on the label, in violation of the Connecticut Uniform Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Department publicized its findings and sent each store a warning letter identifying the problem; at subsequent random re-tests, all six stores were fully compliant.


“In order that we ensure a safe and fair marketplace for consumers, these routine, random checks will continue and more stringent enforcement measures will be employed as necessary,” Farrell said.

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