While a federal court in Florida has dismissed a putative class action alleging that Target Corp. violates consumer fraud laws by selling honey that does not conform to the state’s honey standard, it gave the plaintiff leave to amend the complaint and also found that (i) the plaintiff had standing to bring the claims, (ii) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b)’s heightened pleading standard did not apply, and (iii) the claims were not preempted by federal law. Guerrero v. Target Corp., No. 12-21115 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Fla., decided September 4, 2012).
The court dismissed the complaint without prejudice because it failed “to provide any more specific details regarding how Plaintiff knows that Defendant’s honey did not contain pollen. Thus, the Court agrees with Defendant’s argument that Plaintiff’s Complaint, as currently plead (sic), fails to state a claim because it does not provide fair notice to Defendant regarding the factual basis for Plaintiff’s claim.”
Both parties agreed that the Food and Drug Administration has not established a standard of identity for honey, and thus, the court ruled that the “Florida Honey Standard does not conflict [with federal law] because there is no federal standard of identity for honey.” The plaintiff contends that the defendant’s honey products are not honey because “all traces of naturally occurring pollen” have been removed. She further alleges that “‘the presence of pollen in honey also allows for identification of the geographical origin of that particular honey,’ thus allowing consumers to ensure that the honey they have purchased is not from undesirable locations such as China.”