Hy-Vee Inc. to Pay Penalty for Violating EPA Pesticide Order
LENEXA, KAN. (FEB. 28, 2023) – Grocery store chain Hy-Vee Inc. has agreed to pay a $5,374 civil penalty for violating the terms of a “Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Order” issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Hy-Vee concerning a pesticide product that, according to EPA, was noncompliant with federal law and may have represented a danger to consumers.
“The registration of pesticide products with EPA is critical to protecting public health so consumers are aware of a product’s ingredients, how the product can be safely used, and how the product should be properly stored and disposed,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division.
According to EPA, “Outlaw Germ Justice Disinfectant Wipes” were produced and distributed by the company MJB Worldwide LLC to 27 Hy-Vee stores in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota. MJB claimed the product killed bacteria and viruses, but under federal law, any producer of a pesticide – including those intended to kill pathogens such as COVID-19 – must register the product with EPA. The Agency determined that MJB failed to register the disinfectant product, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. As a result, any subsequent sale of the product, including by Hy-Vee, would also be unlawful under the Act.
After EPA contacted MJB in November 2020 about an unregistered pesticide product, the company assured the Agency that it had recalled all Outlaw disinfectant products and that any future production would be done in compliance with federal law. However, in January 2021, an EPA inspector discovered “Outlaw Germ Justice” wipes available for sale at a Hy-Vee store in Overland Park, Kansas. The inspector also found that the product’s label described concentrations of chemicals that could cause severe eye and skin irritation if used improperly.
In January 2021, EPA issued “Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Orders” to both MJB and Hy-Vee, which prohibited all distribution and sales of Outlaw wipes and required the companies to sequester any remaining product they had under their control. After the issuance of the order, however, Hy-Vee disposed some of the product without notifying or seeking approval from EPA. In July 2022, MJB settled a separate enforcement case with EPA for its production and sale of the unlawful product. MJB is no longer an actively registered business.
Learn more about EPA’s authorities and COVID-19.
For more information about EPA-registered disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, visit EPA’s website.
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