NJ companies claimed pesticide fought COVID-19, fined $325,000 by EPA
A pesticide manufacturer must pay $325,000 after falsely claiming that one of its products was an antimicrobial disinfectant spray that could kill the coronavirus on surfaces, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA said it reached settlements with two companies, Zoono USA and Zoono Holdings, that include civil penalties and an agreement to correctly advertise and label its products.
Zoono Microbe Shield was the spray of choice to combat coronavirus for several major companies during the pandemic including United Airlines, Business Insider reported. According to CBS Austin, it was also used by movie theaters, Amazon, Mcdonald's, and the London Underground after being misled into believing that it was fully registered with the EPA and 99 percent effective against coronavirus.
At the outset of the pandemic, the EPA issued a warning to disinfectants making false claims about their effectiveness against COVID-19. It stated that pesticides could not claim they were effective against any pathogen unless registered with the EPA.
In a statement, the EPA said that Zoono Microbe Shield was not registered with the agency. Regional Administrator Lisa Garcia said that the EPA is committed to guarding against companies that take advantage of COVID-19 fears.
“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,” Garcia said.
Zoono USA was fined $205,000 while Zoono Holdings must pay $120,000. Both companies are located at a single address in Shrewsbury. The microbe shield spray was sold on Zoonousa.com, Zoono.com and Amazon websites, according to the EPA.
Wayne Herriott, a Zoono Holdings spokesman, told the New York Times in an emailed statement that the company bought the distribution rights for Zoono products from Zoono USA in late 2021. Herriott reportedly stated that Zoono Holdings was "unaware" of any misleading claims.
“Zoono Holdings takes regulatory responsibilities very seriously and as soon as Zoono Holdings received notification from the E.P.A. that in market advertising claims were under investigation, Zoono Holdings halted all in market sales and worked diligently to remove any misleading claims from the market,” Herriott said. “Zoono Holdings believes strongly in the efficacy of our products and has a zero-tolerance approach to regulatory noncompliance and continues to monitor this vigilantly."