U.S. EPA settles with Modesto’s Mercer Foods for producing and distributing unregistered pesticide ingredient, violating federal law
MODESTO, Calif. – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Mercer Foods, LLC, involving the production and distribution of an active ingredient, Pseudomonas chlororaphis, used in pesticides for organic farming. The production facility and the ingredient produced were both unregistered, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The company has agreed to pay a $51,905 civil penalty.
“Companies must ensure that the pesticide active ingredients they distribute or sell are registered with the EPA,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We will continue to use all of our tools to secure compliance with registration requirements that protect people from potentially harmful chemicals.”
The case was referred to EPA by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) after California’s Stanislaus County responded to a pesticide incident in August 2019. In this incident, five workers reported being sent to urgent care after exhibiting symptoms of pesticide exposure after having worked with the active ingredient. Pseudomonas chlororaphis may be harmful if inhaled, absorbed through skin, or swallowed.
“This investigation and subsequent enforcement action is an example of the cooperative effort of local, state and federal officials to protect the public and remove unregistered pesticide products from the marketplace,” said Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer Milton O’Haire.
“DPR values its relationship with local Ag Commissioners and our federal colleagues at U.S. EPA,” said DPR Director Val Dolcini. “The incident in Stanislaus County underscores the importance of that partnership when it comes to enforcement matters like this one.”
Mercer Foods has signed a certification statement assuring EPA that the company is no longer producing any ingredients regulated by FIFRA.
Federal pesticide laws require registration of pesticide products and pesticide-production facilities, as well as proper pesticide labeling and packaging. These requirements protect public health and the environment by minimizing the risks associated with the production, use, storage and disposal of pesticides.
For more information on pesticides, please visit: www.epa.gov/pesticides.
For more information on the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, please visit: www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act.