U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has brought conspiracy charges against the president of a honey manufacturer from China in an alleged scheme to illegally dump adulterated honey on the U.S. market, and recently announced that the defendant pleaded guilty.

The product was apparently shipped through the Philippines and Thailand between 2005 and 2008 to avoid steep anti-dumping duties. While defendant Yong Xiang Yan entered a plea to one count of conspiracy involving the avoidance of more than $625,000 in anti-dumping duties, he acknowledged during the plea hearing that he authorized many other shipments that avoided an additional $3.3 million in duties.

Some of the honey imported into the United States was allegedly adulterated with antibiotics, but “[n]either the charges [n]or the plea agreement indicate any instances of illness or other public health consequences attributed to consumption of the honey, nor does it identify any store brands or domestic supply chain of any honey that was illegally imported or adulterated.” Additional details about the alleged illegal trade in honey and its contamination with antibiotics appear in issue 287 of this Update. Yan will be sentenced on April 22, 2010, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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