Two New Jersey-based companies have agreed to pay a total of $325,000 in fines for selling a pesticide that federal officials say was falsely marketed as a disinfectant spray that could help eliminate the coronavirus, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. .
The product, Zoono Microbe Shield, by Zoono USA and Zoono Holdings, was sold online through Amazon and other websites and at community centers and even bought by United Airlines during the height of the pandemic to disinfect cabins, the EPA said Wednesday in a statement announcing the agreement.
The EPA said that while reviewing Zoono Microbe Shield’s label, the agency discovered that it was being sold with public health claims that “differed materially” from what was registered with the agency, which is illegal, and that the claims were ” false” and “misleading.”
The move to fine companies followed a 2020 EPA warning that retailers selling sanitizers and disinfectants that wrongly claimed they protected against the coronavirus would face legal action.
“With agreements like these, EPA is ensuring that consumers can safely trust the claims made by EPA-registered pesticides, while encouraging regulated entities to comply with fundamental environmental laws that protect human health.” public,” Lisa F. Garcia, a regional administrator for the EPA, said in the statement.
Zoono USA was fined $205,000 and Zoono Holdings $120,000. They share an address in Shrewsbury, NJ, and are subsidiaries of a New Zealand company, Zoono Group Ltd.
Wayne Herriott, a spokesman for Zoono Holdings, said Thursday that the company purchased the distribution rights to Zoono’s products in the United States in late 2021 from Zoono USA and that the company was “not aware at the time that the dealer made misleading claims.” or sub-distributors.”
“Zoono Holdings takes regulatory responsibilities very seriously and as soon as Zoono Holdings received notification from the EPA that advertising claims in the marketplace were being investigated, Zoono Holdings stopped all sales in the marketplace and worked diligently to eliminate any misleading market claim,” Mr. Herriott said in an email. “Zoono Holdings strongly believes in the efficacy of our products and has a zero tolerance approach to regulatory non-compliance and continues to monitor this closely.”
Zoono Holdings has also worked with the EPA to challenge the product’s compliance so that it now qualifies as an effective disinfectant against the virus that causes Covid-19, Herriott said.
Efforts to contact Zoono USA officials Thursday night were not immediately successful.
Companies are not the first to be held accountable.
And in June, in an unrelated criminal case, a New Jersey man pleaded guilty in federal court to selling an unregistered pesticide, wire fraud and making false claims. Prosecutors said he illegally sold $2.7 million worth of pesticides that he falsely claimed had been registered with the EPA.