Judge Rules Honey Co-Op “Pure” Claim is Not Misleading

Sioux Honey Association was granted summary judgment in a case alleging the honey it produces is not pure as advertised on the bottles and the labeling is misleading, after an order from Judge Josephine Staton on Monday in the Central District of California.

“The raw Survey data and the Maronick Report offer no foundation upon which a factfinder could conclude that a reasonable consumer would be misled by SiouxHoney’s labeling. Because (the Plaintiff) lacks evidence of an element necessary to carry her ultimate burden of persuasion at trial as to any of her … claims, each fails,” the judge stated.

The lawsuit began in January 2017, when the company was accused of labeling its products with “pure” and “100% pure” when the honey contained traces of glyphosate, a chemical found in herbicides. The suit involves multiple honey products from the company including those under the trademarks for Sue Bee and Aunt Sue’s.

The plaintiff, Susan Tran, cited testing done by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) which said the company’s honey contained 41 parts of glyphosate per billion parts. Later Tran’s counsel found one sample with zero parts and samples with 30 and 40 parts per billion. The order stated that both parties agree that the glyphosate is a byproduct of the honey’s production, not added in production. Tran said she has purchased the honey since at least 2013 in multiple states and believed the honey was pure because of the representations on the bottles.

Sioux Honey consists of over 275 beekeepers. Former Sioux Honey Vice President William Huser testified in the case that the “pure” labeling is used by the company to communicate that it contains “nothing but honey produced by honeybees.” The company in its motion argued that the plaintiff did not provide enough evidence to support its claims and already has a remedy for any “actual damages.” The defendant further argues that the plaintiff did not purchase a product labeled “100% pure” and does not have standing for claims against that label.

Sioux Honey is represented by Hinshaw and Culbertson. Susan Tran is represented by Richman Law Group and Levi and Korsinsky.