Honey producers allege suppliers sold fraudulent product
CHICAGO — Three honey producers — Adee Honey Farms, Bill Rhodes Honey Company, L.L.C. and Hackenberg Apiaries — have filed a class action complaint alleging Groeb Farms and Honey Solutions knowingly and intentionally purchased, packaged, distributed and falsely labeled honey that was actually of Chinese origin.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, also alleges the honey was illegally imported from China and the product was heavily adulterated, containing inexpensive sweeteners and sometimes blended with high-fructose corn syrup and other additives despite the fact the importers represented it as pure honey.
The complaint also alleges Groeb Farms and Honey Solutions are harming domestic producers of honey by bringing Chinese honey into the domestic market at below market prices.
“The domestic honey industry, critically important to agriculture, has suffered losses at the hands of these fraudulent shippers for far too long,” said James J. Pizzirusso, an attorney with Hausfeld L.L.P. representing the honey producers. “Through this class action, our clients seek to hold these entities responsible for the financial harm they have caused.”
This lawsuit follows a nearly five-year investigation led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The investigation focused on how such importers transshipped Chinese honey through other countries, disguised its origin and then illegally imported the honey into the United States to avoid paying U.S. antidumping duties. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois also has filed criminal charges against Groeb Farms and Honey Solutions as a result.