$16 muffin a myth, US hotel chain says

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The Independent Travel

Auditor claims of a whopping $16 per muffin at a US government seminar are half-baked, the global hotel chain Hilton said Friday.

In a report, auditors at the Justice Department said the muffins were among several "extravagant and potentially wasteful" food items served at the training conference in August 2009 at the Capital Hilton in Washington.

Not true, Hilton Worldwide shot back in a statement received by AFP.

"In Washington, the contracted breakfast included fresh fruit, coffee, juice, muffins, tax and gratuity, for an inclusive price of $16 per person," said the corporate parent of the Hilton, Conrad and Waldorf Astoria hotels.

"Dining receipts are often abbreviated and do not reflect the full pre-contracted menu and service provided," it explained.

The inspector general's office of the Justice Department, which keeps tabs on spending, told AFP it stood by the 148-page report, which came as Washington wrestles with a record deficit and a sluggish economy.

The audit released Tuesday found that Justice Department agencies spent far too much on conference catering in 2008 and 2009, when the economic crisis was in full swing.

The audit found that one conference served $16 muffins, while another offered Beef Wellington hors d'oeuvres costing $7.32 per serving.

It said coffee and tea at the events cost up to $1.03 an ounce, meaning an eight-ounce cup would have cost more than eight dollars.

The audit said $4.4 million was spent on 10 events between October 2007 and September 2009, some of which "featured costly meals, refreshments, and themed breaks that we believe were indicative of wasteful or extravagant spending."

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