Bryan Cohen Mar. 12, 2013, 7:23pm

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) - Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed a consumer protection lawsuit Monday against a butcher shop with locations in Heber Springs and Conway that allegedly sold mislabeled and adulterated ground lamb and ground beef.

Lonnie's Meat Market and Catering Inc. and Lonnie Copeland, the shop's owner, allegedly mixed ground beef into products he labeled and sold as ground lamb, a violation of the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act. This allegedly intentional intermingling of beef with lamb came after Copeland previously entered an agreement with McDaniel to stop including beef heart in the ground beef he sold.

"Arkansas consumers were duped into buying adulterated meat so that this business could undercut its competitors and increase its profits," McDaniel said. "Consumers need the assurance that they get what they pay for, and that food products are of the quality and type that are represented on the label."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that a package of ground lamb bought from the Conway-based Lonnie's Meat Market contained components of ground beef. McDaniel alleges that Copeland intentionally intermingled beef with lamb to reduce costs.

Additionally, McDaniel alleges that Copeland is in violation of an assurance of voluntary compliance made with McDaniel's office on October 12 related to using beef heart meat in Copeland's ground beef products. Under the terms of the agreement, Copeland will be fined $25,000 if a court determined there were further violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The lawsuit seeks $25,000 for violating the agreement, an injunction to prohibit Lonnie's Meat Market from misbranding or adulterating meat, and civil penalties plus attorney costs.

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