EPA Takes Enforcement Action Against Two New Jersey Companies for Violations Related to Misbranded Pesticide Spray
NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced settlements with two New Jersey companies for violations of federal laws related to the distribution and sale of Zoono Microbe Shield, a registered pesticide, with false and misleading claims about its effectiveness and suitability for use as a disinfectant or sanitizer, including against the virus that causes COVID-19. The two settlements require the parties to pay significant civil penalties and reflect actions taken by each to come into compliance with the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Zoono USA will pay a $205,000 penalty and Zoono Holdings will pay $120,000.
“With settlements like these, EPA is making sure that consumers can safely rely on the claims made for pesticides registered by the EPA, while also encouraging regulated entities to come into compliance with critical environmental laws that protect public health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “We are also committed to guarding against companies taking advantage of the fact that COVID-19 continues to pose a risk and to ensure consumer confidence and protect people’s health.”
Zoono Microbe Shield sprays were advertised and offered for sale on various websites, including Zoonousa.com, Zoono.com and Amazon websites. EPA’s review of the product’s labeling revealed that the companies had each sold the product with public health claims that substantially differed from statements submitted in connection with its registration with EPA and with other false and misleading claims, which is illegal under FIFRA. Numerous online purchases were made by individual consumers and institutions – such as community centers – located in areas with potential environmental justice concerns.
These violations raised particularly serious concerns as Zoono Microbe Shield labeling, particularly its online advertising, appeared to have diverged from allowable claims during the pandemic, increasing the likelihood that unsuspecting consumers purchased the Zoono Microbe Shield spray with the false expectations that it could be used as a sanitizer or disinfectant to prevent SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as other germs, viruses and pathogens. Claims allowed for Zoono Microbe Shield as part of its registration include effectiveness against odor causing bacteria, bacteria which cause staining and discoloration, fungi and algae as a static agent. Significantly, approved uses allowed on Zoono Microbe Shield labeling do not include use as a disinfectant or sanitizer or any public health claims.