A California federal court has dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit alleging that Trader Joe’s Co.’s “pure manuka honey” was “adulterated by the inclusion of cheaper honey.” Moore v. Trader Joe’s Co., No. 18-4418 (N.D. Cal., entered June 24, 2019). The court’s decision notes a transcript from oral argument in which the plaintiff explained, “[T]here could be other flowers in the immediate area where the manuka flowers are. So the bees are not just going to the manuka flowers. They are going to the clover flowers. They are going to the … dandelions and they are all coming back to – to store the nectar in the same hive and so it’s already adulterated when it gets into the hive.”

“In sum, Plaintiffs clarified that their adulteration theory is premised on the bees visiting different floral sources and returning to the hive resulting in a lower manuka pollen count, rather than the manufacturer purposefully mixing manuka honey with non-manuka honey,” the court found. “As there is no dispute that all of the honey involved is technically manuka honey, albeit with varying pollen counts, there cannot be adulteration in violation of the [federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act].”

“Since Plaintiffs cannot allege adulteration, honey is a single ingredient food, and the chief floral source is undisputedly manuka, the product labeling is accurate,” the court held. “Given the accuracy of the label, a reasonable consumer could not find it misleading, because it is not.”

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