Muehlberger and Johnson Detail Honey Litigation for Law360

Shook Partner Jim Muehlberger and Of Counsel John Johnson III have authored an article for Law360 detailing litigation targeting honey producers. "Honey producers have sometimes been accused of diluting their product with syrup," they explain. "They have also faced many other accusations, including that their honey contains contaminants, that it lacks some key quality characteristic, or that its country of origin has been wrongly declared."

The article discusses the relevant U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, noting that the agency "has not generally developed legally enforced quality parameters for honey," as well as litigation targeting the product. "In the 2010s, a wave of litigation focused on filtered honey, which has the pollen removed from it to meet consumer preferences for characteristics like increased clarity and slower crystallization. In these suits, the plaintiffs alleged that the filtered honey was not honey because, according to some definitions, '[no] pollen … may be removed except where this is unavoidable in the removal of foreign inorganic or organic matter.' The plaintiffs alleged that the product had avoidable pollen removed and thus was not real honey. This allegation ultimately gained little traction, and these suits largely disappeared." More recent litigation, Muehlberger and Johnson note, focuses on processing techniques, the country of origin, the type of plant bees used to make the honey and the presence of certain contaminants that allegedly affect the purity of the honey.