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Burns & Gambo

Bashas' to pay restitution for meat mislabeling

PHOENIX -- The parent company of AJ's Fine Foods has agreed to pay more than $1.4 million in restitution to food banks around Arizona in a meat mislabeling case.

Federal prosecutors said Bashas' Inc. operated 12 AJ's locations in the Phoenix metropolitan area and one in Tucson at the time of the mislabeling from January 2010 to February 2012.

Investigators said meat department employees at some of the AJ's markets took beef tenderloin steaks that had been graded as "choice" under the USDA's system and mislabeling them as "prime" and also mislabeled "Kobe" ground beef.

AJ's reported selling more than 17,500 pounds of the mislabeled steaks and nearly 140,000 pounds of the mislabeled ground beef.

In addition to restitution, Bashas' will discipline and-or fire culpable employees and adopt a comprehensive compliance program.

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