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U.S. EPA fines Safeway $675,000 for allegedly selling unregistered household cleaning products

Release Date: 07/05/2007
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(07/05/07) SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined Safeway, Inc. $675,000 for allegedly selling unregistered household cleaning products at its Hawaii and California stores with labels claiming the products disinfect and remove mold and mildew, a violation of federal law.

Disinfectants and products that control mold are considered pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Both products make pesticidal claims which would require registration as pesticides with the EPA. Neither product was registered.

“Our pesticide registration rules require products claiming to disinfect, kill, or control germs and pests such as mold, be registered as a pesticide,” said Katherine Taylor, associate director of the EPA’s Communities and Ecosystems Division of EPA Southwest Regional Office “Proper registration of pesticides ensures that labels include use directions and safety precautions designed to limit risks to human health and the environment.”

In 2005, a Hawaii Department of Agriculture inspector found Safeway Heavy Duty Toilet Bowl Cleaner being sold at a Safeway store on Kauai, Hawaii, claiming it ‘disinfects.’ The EPA alleges that Safeway sold this product in its stores throughout Northern California and Hawaii.

In 2006, a California Department of Pesticide Regulations inspector found a second product, Safeway Liquid Cleanser with Bleach, being sold at a Vons store in Grover Beach, CA, claiming it ‘removes mold and mildew’. The Vons Companies, Inc. is a subsidiary of Safeway.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act regulates the sale, distribution, and use of pesticides within the United States. Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, companies are required to register the pesticide with the EPA and ensure that the registered pesticide is properly labeled.

Companies must provide additional data before a legal claim can be made that a product protects public health. The label of all EPA registered products must bear the EPA registration number, along with directions for use and safety precautions.

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