Advocacy Group Accuses Wal-Mart of Mislabeling Organics

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based policy research group that promotes sustainable farming, has filed a legal complaint against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. here, claiming that the retailer mislabeled non-organic products as being certified organic in some of its stores.

The complaint was filed with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. A Cornucopia Institute spokesman reportedly said his organization filed the complaint after Wal-Mart president and c.e.o. Lee Scott did not respond to a letter sent by the group. The policy group said it conducted checks of Wal-Mart stores in five states and discovered labeling violations in virtually all of the "dozens of stores" it visited.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Karen Burke told CNN that the incident of mislabeling appeared to be isolated. "Although Wal-Mart has more than 2,000 locations that may offer up to 200 organic selections in addition to thousands of non-organic offerings, we believe it to be an isolated incident should a green organic identifying tag be inadvertently placed by or accidentally shift in front of the wrong item," the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Wal-Mart is working on the problem at the stores where the incidents took place, Burke added.

Kastel claims that the mislabeling is a "systematic problem" with Wal-Mart, however.

The Cornucopia Institute earlier filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture after receiving no response to its letter to Scott, Kastel said. The organization followed up with a complaint to the state of Wisconsin after finding out that a USDA investigation could take between one and two years, he said.
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