DUBLIN, Calif. -- Lucky Stores here has become the most recent focus in a state-led probe of supermarket meat-handling practices that began early last year.
Last month, investigators from the state attorney general's office served a search warrant to obtain documents from the chain's offices here and in San Leandro and also interviewed meat department personnel at several stores.
While government officials would not comment on the nature of the search or what triggered the investigation, local media reports indicated the focus was on allegations that products labeled as ground beef sold by Lucky had been mixed with lower grade meats.
The United States Department of Agriculture and at least two county district attorneys also have been involved in the investigations.
Executives at Lucky -- which operates 430 stores in California and Nevada -- could not be reached for comment. But in an article in the Oakland (Calif.) Tribune spokeswoman Judy Decker said the company has policies against the mislabeling of meat and is prepared to discipline anyone found in violation of those policies.
The state probe of supermarket meat-handling practices was broadened last year after an investigation into the 16-store Pak N Save division of Oakland, Calif.- based Safeway found five of its stores had sold product labeled "30%-fat ground beef" that had been adulterated with other meat trimmings.
Safeway agreed to pay $6 million in penalties and restitution and also offered refunds to customers who had purchased the 30%-fat ground beef product.