Honeymark Sues Wedderspoon for False Advertising

Honeymark alleges that Wedderspoon makes false and misleading claims with respect to the potency levels and organic status of their Manuka honey.
By: Honeymark
Aug. 8, 2012 - PRLog -- Consumers believe the higher the potency level the greater the healing properties of the Manuka honey.  The level of activity is determined through specific specialized laboratory testing.  Honeymark came to suspect that Wedderspoon’s claims regarding the activity levels of its Manuka honey were false.  They came to this conclusion by sending samples of Wedderspoon’s Manuka Honey to be tested by an independent certified laboratory for its activity rating.  The results of those laboratory tests indicated that Wedderspoon’s Manuka honey was repeatedly and substantially below the activity ratings it claimed on the product labels, websites, advertisements and promotional materials.

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand from bees that gather pollen solely from the Manuka bush.  Although all honey appears to contain some level bioactivity, consumers consider Manuka honey to be special due to its additional and measurable non-peroxide activity.  Research has confirmed that Manuka honey contains a naturally present, stable and unique non-peroxide activity which has a variety of benefits.  As a result, consumers are willing to pay a substantially higher price for Manuka honey.  Although this non-peroxide activity is unique to Manuka honey, not all Manuka honey contains sufficient levels of activity for therapeutic use.

The amount of floral nectar extracted from Manuka flowers used by the bees that produce this unique type of honey affects the level of non-peroxide activity of each batch of Manuka honey.  The level of non-peroxide activity in Manuka honey is identified by a rating system that measures its potency.  For example, Manuka honey which, as the result of lab testing, is found to have a rating of 16.3 using this method is labeled as 16+.  Only Manuka honey that has a potency rating of 10 or greater is considered active. This rating system was designed, in part, to assist consumers in their purchasing decisions.  Consumers rely on these ratings to distinguish the quality of Manuka honey and place a higher value on Manuka honey with higher potency levels.  Consumers are willing to pay significantly more money for active Manuka honey compared to inactive Manuka honey.

When Honeymark had an independent laboratory in New Zealand test the Wedderspoon Manuka honey, the results revealed that Wedderspoon’s 12+ Manuka honey had a Non-Peroxide Activity of less than 4.1, and the claimed 16+ Manuka honey had a Non-Peroxide Activity of 4.6.  Activity ratings of 4.1 and 4.6 are substantially below the claimed activity ratings of 12+ and 16+, respectively, that appear on Wedderspoon’s labels and advertising.  They are also substantially below the minimum activity rating of 10+ required for Manuka honey to be identified as active.

Honeymark also feels that Wedderspoon’s claim that their honey being organic is questionable, as it is impossible to prevent bees from traveling to a neighboring areas to collect pollen and nectar which may not be certified organic compliant.  Wedderspoon’s organic claim is not certified by the USDA.

Wedderspoon blatantly lying about the potency level of their honey violates federal statutes which protect consumers against false advertising.  Wedderspoon’s statements regarding the activity rating of its Manuka honey are literally false and misleading.  The false and misleading statements on Wedderspoon’s website and product labeling have actually deceived consumers and the retail stores that sell their products.  Honeymark feels that this deception has minimized and depreciated the value of their products which are accurately labeled as well as the value of Manuka honey in general.

Honeymark’s attorneys are asking the courts for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief enjoining Wedderspoon from making the false, misleading and deceptive statements on its website and products labels.  They are also requesting that Wedderspoon be require to retract and recall all products whose labels contain false, misleading or deceptive statements and award Honeymark compensatory damages and monetary relief as a result of their labeling deception.  

This case will be a jury trial that will take place in Honeymark’s home state of Massachusetts.
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Tags:Honeymark, Wedderspoon, Manuka Honey
Industry:Business, Legal
Location:Boston - Massachusetts - United States
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