'Chile Police': Inspectors ensure authenticity of chiles claiming origins in NM

The Chile Police

EL PASO, Texas - A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. 

But a chile posing as one of New Mexico's signature crops is not only misleading -- but also an offense in the state of New Mexico.

ABC-7 had a chance to tag along as New Mexico inspectors checked out the produce section at the Albertsons grocery store on El Paseo Drive in Las Cruces, making sure no chile impostors are being sold in stores.

"What our inspectors are looking out for is making sure that any time chile is advertised as New Mexico chile ... that there is some paperwork with us backing up those claims," said Katie Goetze, the spokeswoman with the NM Department of Agriculture.

About a dozen inspectors with the NMDA are authorized to check out the origin of chiles -- fresh or canned.

They sweep grocery stores and farmer's markets across the state.

The so-called "chile police" were created under the New Mexico Chile Advertising Act, which went into effect in 2012.

Goetze told ABC-7 if they find impostors, "We issue a 'stop sale' until they get paperwork or they remove the reference that brings them under scrutiny of this law."

Goetze said this is all about fairness in the marketplace.

"New Mexicans believe in our chile. This is our signature crop in this state," she said. "We're making sure the buyer knows what they're buying, and that the seller knows what they're selling."

NMDA inspectors have issued 24 stop sale notices and inspected more than 200 retailers -- mainly for improper labels on chile products.

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