Two affiliated New Jersey companies will pay more than $300,000 in fines for claiming a registered pesticide could be used to fight germs and viruses including COVID-19, federal officials said Wednesday.
Zoono Microbe Shield was sold around the globe to fight COVID-19 in such places as United Airlines cabins and Amazon warehouses. But officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that the manufacturer gave "false and misleading claims about its effectiveness and suitability for use" as a COVID-19 disinfectant.
Under an agreement with the EPA, Zoono USA and Zoono Holdings will pay $205,000 and $120,000 respectively. The two are subsidiaries of a parent company based in New Zealand.
“We are 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," EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia said in a statement.
Zoono USA, based in Shrewsbury, did not have an immediate response to the agreement.
Under its registration with the EPA, Zoono Microbe Shield was only allowed to say on its label that it could fight "against odor-causing bacteria, bacteria which cause staining and discoloration, fungi (mold and mildew) and algae as a static agent," according to the agreement
But packaging, print marketing, websites, social media and other advertisements for Zoono Microbe Shield said it was a "surface sanitizer that continuously kills germs for up to 30 days," including COVID.
Among those that used the product as a COVID disinfectant was United Airlines. Executives said in September 2020 that workers would begin coating seats, tray tables, armrests, overhead bins, lavatories and crew stations with the product each week on more than 30 aircraft.
It was also used to try to disinfect bus stations and hospital rooms in the United Kingdom, along with hundreds of Amazon distribution centers, according to press reports. Other reports said it was used by Coca-Cola, McDonald's and movie theater chains.