INDEPENDENCE -- A Wisconsin company fraudulently sold meat door-to-door in Northeast Iowa, according to a recent court ruling.
The Iowa Attorney General's Office announced Tuesday a consent judgment was issued against All American Foods, the Iowa name for Country Manor Distributors of Hudson, Wis.
A lawsuit filed May 14 in Floyd County District Court alleged All American Foods sold meat to several Iowans, including two couples in Northeast Iowa.
Salesmen told customers they had meat left over that regular food service customers didn't want, and they would sell it at a bargain price, which was not true.
"This is the classic misrepresentation (case). … They lead people to believe they are getting a real bargain and must make a snap decision to buy it," Iowa Attorney General spokesperson Bob Brammer said. "That's a recipe for disaster."
The company signed off on the judgment, without admitting guilt. They were ordered to give full refunds totaling $2,332 to seven customers who already have filed complaints. They also must provide refunds to those who file complaints within 120 days of the June 21 order.
District Court Judge Bryan McKinley ordered All American Foods pay a $40,000 penalty if they violate the state's Door-to-Door Sales Act again.
In an unrelated matter, the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office finished its investigation Tuesday of a door-to-door meat vendor. Officials said Quinn Cook and his business, Cook's Choice, is legitimate and selling safe products.
The department received initial reports of a man selling meat that may not be safe for human consumption. It turns out Cook is selling U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected beef, pork, chicken and seafood processed by Prairie Gold Foods of Minneapolis.
Cook is currently applying for his mobile food license in Iowa.
Although there are many reputable home delivery food businesses operating in the state, Brammer warns citizens to be leery of meat and seafood peddlers using certain tactics and who don't comply with state law.
Brammer said state laws require vendors to show the price-per-pound for meat and tell customers about their right to cancel the transaction within three business days.
He said people should beware of salesmen wanting customers to make a quick decision to buy meat. The one-time "bargain" price offered because a nearby restaurant or wholesaler didn't buy all the meat may not be such a bargain, he said.
In affidavits filed with the lawsuit, consumers paid from $169 to $525 for meat. In one case, an All American Foods representative told a Cresco couple the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Cresco purchased less meat than anticipated and the company would sell it cheap to them instead of taking it back. Arnold and Dorothy Schmauss of Cresco paid $300 for meat. They later found out the VFW didn't purchase meat from the company.
A Bancroft couple was told the meat they bought was a bargain, though the price-per-pound wasn't provided to give them a fair market comparison. They later weighed the meat and found out they paid between $8 to $9 per pound.
"Be very cautious and skeptical of door-to-door sales of meat and seafood," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a press release. "In reality, the price usually turns out to be very high, although consumers can't tell that at first because there is no itemized list of cuts and the price per pound."
Brammer said this kind of scam has been going on for years. Several other door-to-door meat peddlers also have had complaints lodged against them for similar infractions.
These include: Steakhouse Quality Meats, Kansas City; Midwestern Meats, now doing business as Choice Meats, Davenport; Premium Choice Steaks out of Illinois and Iowa Steak Co., Des Moines.