Plastics companies need firm, final guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency to specify what sorts of marketing claims they can make about products that contain antimicrobial additives.
Johnson & Johnson is the latest victim of EPA's crackdown. The company agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and to change the labeling on its Reach toothbrush to settle charges that the company improperly claimed the brush's plastic was treated to fight germs.
If a product touts that it contains antimicrobials, you can be sure that consumers will expect some health benefit. EPA, at least until now, has been skeptical, arguing that the additives protect products against discoloration and deterioration, but do nothing to protect consumers.
EPA needs to continue to battle against truly ridiculous claims. But it also needs to clarify its rules and give companies an opportunity to prove their claims without the threat of fines and bad publicity.