WASHINGTON — Plastic kitchen cutting board maker Joyce Chen Inc. has stopped selling 12 of its products after the Environmental Protection Agency said the firm was making unproven claims that they prevent the growth of bacteria.
Billerica, Mass.-based Joyce Chen said it is negotiating with EPA, and President Keith Ohmart said the company only claims that the cutting boards inhibit bacteria growth, not prevent it. That is the same claim made by competitors, he said.
EPA said the company claimed on labels that the boards prevent food-borne illnesses and bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli.
The cutting boards are treated with Bacteron, the brand name of a pesticide that Ohmart declined to identify.
EPA officials could not be reached. An agency statement said the pesticide has been proven to protect against odor-causing bacteria but ``has not been proved to be effective against organisms that can cause disease in humans.''
EPA ordered the company to stop selling and distributing the products June 27. Ohmart said the firm has complied with the order.
Ohmart said the Food and Drug Administration, and not the EPA, has jurisdiction over such products.
The company is using a pesticide from an FDA list to treat the cutting boards, he said.
``We are contesting the EPA's jurisdiction,'' and the company has been ``blindsided'' by the EPA's assertion of authority, Ohmart said.
But the EPA statement said the federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act requires that firms using pesticide products for the home register with EPA.
The firm has not submitted testing data, a list of active ingredients or other data that would let EPA determine if the products meet the claims on their labels, the agency said.
EPA has taken similar action against 3M's O-Cel-O sponges, housewares made by Ecko and a line of pesticide-treated Playskool toys made by Hasbro Inc.