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Wal-Mart accused of consumer fraud

Tara Lohan: A watch-dog group has reported that Wal-Mart is using misleading signs to pass off nonorganic products as organic.
Wal-Mart has given people another reason to be up in arms about the mega-retailer. They have been accused of mislabeling products and produce as organic, when they are not.

In September The Cornucopia Institute surveyed Wal-Mart stores around the country and "discover widespread problems with signage misrepresenting nonorganic food as 'organic.'"

The Institute filed a complaint with the USDA but has found, four months later after revisiting Wal-Mart stores, that many of the deceptive signs remain. (You can see photos on their website.)

"The USDA is examining the watchdog's claims, while the Wisconsin authorities are examining Wal-Mart's practices and those of other supermarkets within the state," the Independent reported.

"If unchecked, Wal-Mart's alleged misrepresentation of organic food, along with their procurement practices, and cheapening the meaning behind the organic label, could endanger the livelihoods of many farmers and family business owners who have labored to build organics into a lucrative $16 billion a year industry," said Mark Kastel, co-director of the Wisconsin-based Institute.

Wal-Mart announced last spring that they were adding organic produce to their shelves. The move signaled a growing trend in the corporatization of organic foods that many believe will hurt small-scale organic growers.

We can now add one more on the growing list of reasons not to shop at Wal-Mart.
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.
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