Pilgrim's Pride fined for overcharging consumers

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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LANSING, Mich. – Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation., a subsidiary of Greeley, Colo.-based JBS USA, was fined by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development for allegedly overcharging consumers buying Pilgrim’s Pride Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Singles. A consent agreement was issued to Pilgrim’s Pride with fines and restitution totaling $7,000 and a probationary period of two years, according to MDARD.

“In this instance, an astute consumer alerted us to the problem and upon investigation, our inspectors confirmed consumers were being overcharged when buying this product,” said Keith Creagh, MDARD director.

On July 6, MDARD’s Consumer Protection Division received a consumer complaint alleging the Pilgrim’s Pride Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Singles they had purchased at a local Sam’s Club contained less product than it was labeled to have and leading to consumers being overcharged by 28 cents. Purchases at two Sam’s Club locations were conducted on July 6; both purchases were allegedly found to be short-weight. On July 7, an MDARD inspection at Sam’s Club revealed that 34 of 34 (100 percent) packages tested weighed less than the quantity represented; with an average negative error of 0.099 lb. and an average overcharge to customers of $0.27 per container.

An internal inquiry at Pilgrim’s Pride revealed an error had been made on the tare weight for the packages starting in March 2011. In Michigan, consumers cannot be charged for tare weight (weight of the packaging.) The investigation determined that 22,437 packages had been sold in Michigan during the time frame of March through July 2011.

“While 27 cents may not seem like a lot of money, combine it with the number of consumers who purchased the product and the length of time, and it really adds up to a plentiful sum of money consumers had overpaid,” said Craig VanBuren, Consumer Protection Section director. “The Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation was cooperative throughout our investigation, has agreed to the settlement terms and the case has been closed. Follow-up inspections have determined the problem has been corrected and appropriate controls are in place.”
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