The Environmental Protection Agency's crackdown on claims about germ-fighting additives in plastics has prompted toy maker Hasbro Inc. to discontinue its effort to sell toys with those additives.
The Pawtucket, R.I., firm said it agreed to pay the EPA $125,000, ending one of the more high-profile disputes over such marketing claims since the agency started fining companies a year ago.
Hasbro said April 30 that EPA objections meant it was unable to ``mount a marketing campaign that would be meaningful to consumers.''
``As a result, sales for our Playskool toys with Microban anti-bacterial protection have been disappointing.''
The company said it manufactured about eight toy lines last year that contained an additive manufactured by Microban Products Co. of Huntersville, N.C.
Hasbro said it also may not use Microban in two other products, the 1-2-3 High Chair and the Magic Reward Potty Step Stool. The company said in a written statement that it is filling open orders on those products but may not continue to make them with an anti-bacterial additive.
Hasbro said it was making appropriate marketing claims based on Microban's EPA registration. Industry officials have complained that the EPA did an about-face and that its rules, until recently, were vague.
``EPA's newly announced `policy' with regard to allowable marketing claims will discourage manufacturers from providing consumers with meaningful information about the presence of additives in their products,'' Hasbro said. ``Indeed, the language EPA will require is likely to discourage consumers from purchasing products that contain antibacterial additives.''
EPA spokeswoman Barbara Mandula said Hasbro's decision vindicates agency claims that the company used the additive primarily for marketing.
The EPA came out with new rules in February that restrict health claims.
Microban, which also was fined by the EPA, said it can demonstrate that its products protect health and is waiting for agency rules on how to do that. A Microban official said the company has contested its fine and the case is before EPA officials.
Mandula said companies should approach the agency with testing suggestions.
``If they had any reasonably valid scientific tests [that their product met claims], they would be standing at our door,'' she said.
The EPA is considering modifications to the standards in some cases, she said.