South Florida Grocery Store Fined Over ‘Skinless' Chicken

When you go shopping in the meat section at your local grocery store you assume that what’s printed on the package labels is accurate. But an NBC 6 investigation into a local supermarket chain found it was recently fined for misleading advertising after a customer complained the poultry didn’t match what was on the label.

The package of chicken breast from Presidente supermarket in Hialeah was labeled “Chicken Breast Skinless Premium” and that’s exactly what it appeared to be. But when Miami-Dade County inspectors opened the package, they had a surprise.

“Our office received a complaint from a constituent indicating that they had gone to a particular market and purchased some chicken that was being advertised as though it was skinless only to find when they got home that the skin was packaged on the bottom of the package where the consumer couldn’t see it,” said Jorge Herrera, Miami-Dade Office of Consumer Protection.

NBC 6 Investigators decided to find out what was happening at the store so we bought a tray of chicken labeled "skinless." When we opened it we found the skin still attached to one side of the breast, tucked away, out of sight, underneath the chicken. We had paid for more than half a pound of skin at “skinless chicken prices” which are higher than regular chicken prices.

"There’s a service they provide, therefore you pay more for that service. However in this case not only were you paying for the service you were paying for something you weren’t anticipating, which was the hidden skin at the bottom of the package,” said Herrera.

We took the pictures of our purchase to Fausto Alvarez, the corporate secretary of Presidente Supermarket and the man who runs the supermarket chain.

"Really I’m surprised and amazed that things like this happen. We buy it from the distributors, they come already packed,” said Alvarez.

At first, Alvarez blamed his distributors, saying he, too, had paid more for the chicken he thought was skinless. But Miami-Dade’s investigators weren’t buying it.

“Our officers are trained and many of them come from the industry themselves so they know what to look for and in this particular case the package that we found was a package that was in fact packaged at the store,” said Herrera.

The Miami-Dade Office of Consumer Protection issued Presidente a $500 fine for misleading advertising.

As for Alvarez, he looked into this case and discovered the chicken had been packaged at the store and launched an internal investigation. He thanked NBC 6 Investigators for catching the problem and vowed it won’t happen again.

“I’m even going to order to check all the inventory we have to make sure that whatever we have in inventory it has to be re-labeled,” said Alvarez.

A spokesperson for Miami-Dade’s Consumer Protection Office says Presidente Supermarkets have since corrected the problem. But it may be more difficult for county officers to police situations like this because they no longer enforce a law that requires packaging that is see-through. That now falls on the state.

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