Ralphs accused of short-weighting seafood


James Wright, Senior Editor

Published on
May 11, 2010

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Criminal Branch on Tuesday filed a multi-count criminal case against retailer Ralphs Grocery Co., part of the Kroger Co., after undercover inspections at 14 locations found instances of overcharging and short weighting.

According to a press release from the Office of the City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich, Ralphs and Kroger are each charged with 14 counts of false and misleading advertising, 18 counts of unlawful computation of value, nine counts of selling prepackaged commodities in less quantity than represented and 18 counts of false labeling.

All are violations of California’s Business and Professions Code. Each defendant could face fines and penalty assessments up to USD 256,000.

The products that the stores overcharged for included jumbo shrimp, fried chicken and coffee. Court documents allege that on 16 February Ralphs “willfully and with gross negligence” sold and advertised jumbo shrimp at an amount greater than the price per unit. In another instance, the net weight of jumbo shrimp was not properly labeled on the packaging.

Between 20 January and 9 March, the Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures conducted test purchases at 14 Ralphs stores across Los Angeles. Inspectors found 27 violations of overcharges, many of which were illegally charging for the weight of the package or including the ice glaze on frozen products in the net weight. Many prepackaged items were also found to be under the labeled weight.

Calls to Kroger have not yet been returned.

Ralphs was previously issued notifications of multiple violations following package inspections and test purchases in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, the Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures issued 18 notices for individual Ralphs stores having either test purchase overcharge or short measure packages, or both. The company paid USD 6,500 in fines. In 2009, 30 Ralphs stores were issued notices for similar violations and paid USD 10,400 in fines.

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