If you've purchased Sue Bee Honey recently hoping that the sweet nectar is 100 percent-pure and free of artificial substances, you maybe in for a surprise.
As 9 Investigates has learned the local Sioux Honey Association is facing legal allegations that their honey contains chemicals commonly found in weed killer.
Labels on food products are beneficial. They showcase what type of product you're purchasing, but what if those labels are misleading?
Sue Bee Honey promotes 100 percent pure and natural nectar, but two groups -- Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association -- believes consumers are being mislead as traces of a pesticide called glyphosate has been found in the honey.
"[The consumer] expects that that honey is free of toxins. Glyphosate is an endocrine disrupter, it's a probable human carcinogen and it's been found in sue bee honey," says political director Alexis Baden-Mayer for Organic Consumer Association.
This lawsuit filed by the groups in Federal Court in Washington, D.C., and obtained by 9 Investigates, alleges the Sioux Honey cooperative is deceptively labeling, marketing and selling Sue Bee and Aunt Sue's honey products to consumers.
The two groups don't believe Sioux Honey is intentionally mislabeling products, but assume the honey crops are being affected by pesticides from neighboring farms. Either way, they still want Sioux Honey to take accountability by creating more space between their bee hives and other farms using chemicals.
"Essentially you would need 16 square miles around a hive and be able to control all 16 miles which is 10,000 acres."
EPA tests show Sue Bee Honey contains traces of up 41 parts per billion of the pesticide.
While the EPA has no set regulation for glyphosate, the groups filing suit contend it's too much -- citing links to cancer.
"The EPA residue level right now is zero, they haven't set one so technically it's a violation of EPA rules as well," says Baden-Mayer. "It's linked to breast cancer. There are studies that show that endocrine dependent cancer cells flourish in the presence of glyphosate."
The consumer groups bringing this lawsuit say the case is cut and dried, consumers are being misled.
Despite numerous requests by 9 Investigates for comment, no one with the Sioux Honey Association responded.
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