March 01, 2012

Pesky Pesticide Product Claims—Bugs and Bacteria vs. FIFRA

Bonni F. Kaufman

In 2010 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that four separate consumer product manufacturers would pay more than half a million dollars to resolve enforcement actions involving the retail sale of shoes, headphones, and bathroom fixtures. See Press Release, Envtl. Prot. Agency, “The North Face” Parent Company, “Saniguard” Marketers, and Califone Fined More Than $500,000 Over Antimicrobial Claims (May 6, 2010), available at!OpenDocument&Highlight=0,FIFRA. According to the press release, the manufacturer of North Face sports apparel agreed to pay $200,000 for making unsubstantiated public health claims that their athletic shoes provided “antimicrobial protection” and inhibited the growth of “disease-causing bacteria.” Califone International, Inc. agreed to pay $220,000 for making unproven health claims that its headphones “prevent[ed] the spread of bacteria, mold and mildew for student protection.” At the same time, two companies selling and distributing Saniguard faucets and food service hardware products to hospitals settled an action arising out of claims that the products contained an antimicrobial technology that controlled the growth of E. coli, salmonella, and staph on treated surfaces.

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