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Big Farm Abused ‘Organic’ Label, Class Claims

LOS ANGELES (CN) - California's largest herb merchant, HerbThyme Farms, "played California consumers for fools," by selling conventionally grown herbs as organic at bumped-up prices, a class action claims in Superior Court.

Named plaintiff Michelle Quesada says HerbThyme Farms is the largest grower, shipper and marketer of herbs in California.

"But that wasn't enough. So when HerbThyme's profits grew at a slower rate than the company wanted, it turned to fraud," according to the complaint.

Compton-based HerbThyme took advantage of the organic foods movement when it "slapped higher price tags on its products, and turned a tidy - albeit illicit - profit" for conventionally grown herbs it labeled as "Fresh Organic," the complaint states.

HerbThyme owns a number of large farms where it grows produce conventionally, and a much smaller organic farm, according to the complaint. It distributes to grocery stores across the country.

The class seeks restitution, damages and an injunction, alleging unjust enrichment, fraud and violations of the California business and consumer laws.

The class is represented by Raymond Boucher with Kiesel, Boucher & Larson of Beverly Hills.

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