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Whole Foods Apologizes For Pricing Problems

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Whole Foods Market is apologizing to its shoppers for incorrect pricing, a week after a New York investigation found that the natural food grocer routinely overcharged for prepackaged fruits, vegetables and deli meats.

"Straight up, we made some mistakes,'' said co-CEO Walter Robb as he stood beside co-CEO John Mackey in a YouTube video posted Wednesday. "We want to own that.''

Robb and Mackey said that the pricing mistakes were unintentional and that the company will increase its training at stores around the country. Going forward, Whole Foods will give items away for free if customers discover they were overcharged.

"We apologize to our customers for any discrepancies that may have occurred,'' the company said in blog post.

Last week, New York's Department of Consumer Affairs said it was expanding its investigation after finding that Whole Foods stores in the city regularly ripped customers off, including overcharging $14.84 for a package of coconut shrimp, $4.85 for eight chicken tenders and $6.15 for a vegetable platter. The department tested 80 types of prepackaged items and found all of them had mislabeled weights. The investigation focused on eight stores open in the city at the time of the investigation.

"(The prices) were off significantly," Commissioner Julie Menin said last week. "This is unacceptable."

After the company apologized, Menin said in a statement that the Department of Consumer Affairs was "gratified'' that Whole Foods admitted to issues with its prepackaged food labels.

In the YouTube video, Mackey said there was a "very small percentage'' of weighing errors with items made in stores, including sandwiches, fresh juices and cut fruits.

"We know they are unintentional because the mistakes are both in the customer's favor and sometimes not in the customer's favor,'' Robb said.

The fine for falsely labeling a package is up to $950 for the first violation, and up to $1,700 after that. Consumer Affairs said the potential number of violations that Whole Foods faces in its New York City stores is in the thousands.

The company already paid an $800,000 fine for similar violations in California in 2012.

Based in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market Inc. operates 422 stores around the world.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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