Bashas' Admits to Overcharging Customers for Meat by Mislabeling Products

Bashas' operates more than 130 grocery stores in Arizona, California, and New Mexico.
Bashas' operates more than 130 grocery stores in Arizona, California, and New Mexico.
Kevin O.

While most of us spent the Labor Day weekend relaxing, Bashas', the Arizona-owned grocery store chain with more than 130 locations in Arizona, California, and New Mexico, was doing some serious explaining.

The company, which also operates AJ's Fine Foods and Food City, has admitted to mislabeling meat and overcharging its customers for it.

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On Friday, the Republic reports, Bashas' admitted to overcharging customers by mislabeling steaks and beef at some of its AJ's Fine Foods stores in Phoenix and Tucson, selling steaks for $10 more per pound by changing the grade of meat and generating almost $1.5 million in company sales between January 2010 and February 2012.

The Republic goes on to say that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona has entered into a "non-prosecution agreement with the company because of its cooperation with investigators" and that Bashas' has agreed to pay $1,472,487 to food banks in Tucson and Phoenix as a form of restitution, given that identifying the overcharged customers would have been too difficult.

In the "why I did it" category, the Republic reports, investigators said that several AJ's managers admitted to mislabeling meat for a variety of reasons, including: adherence to profit margins, because the AJ's distribution center ran out of "prime" tenderloins, and, in some instances, because they felt, according to court documents, "entitled to 'upgrade' the tenderloins because they disagreed with the initial 'choice' grade assigned by the USDA."

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