Recalls: Scotts Caught Selling Fertilizer With Invalid EPA Registration Numbers

Apparently, Scotts forgot that they were supposed to register their fertilizer with the EPA because they were caught selling products that not only had never been registered, they had “invalid” registration numbers printed on the packages and some products had misleading labels with inadequate safety instructions. Whoooops.

Scotts has agreed to recall the fertilizer. The EPA says:

[We] ordered Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., located in Marysville, Ohio to stop selling and distributing four pesticide products. Two of these products are illegal because they were never registered with EPA and display invalid registration numbers on the labels. The other two products are currently registered with EPA. However, Scotts sold and distributed these products before they were registered, which is a violation of federal law. The labels on these two products make false or misleading claims or fail to provide adequate safety instructions to protect people and the environment.

Check your Scott’s products for the following EPA numbers:

Each registered pesticide must have an EPA registration number on its label that is specific to that product. That number may appear anywhere on the label, but is typically found near the bottom of the label on the front or back of the product. It is often designated as EPA Registration No. XXX-XXX or EPA Reg No. XXX-XXX.

If you see the following EPA registration numbers, you have an unregistered or improperly labeled pesticide:

* 62355-4 (garden weed preventor & plant food products)
* 538-301 (weed & feed and fire ant killer product)
* 538-299 (turf builder plus weed and feed product)
* 538-304 (lawn service fertilizer with .28% Halts Pro products)

If you have purchased any of these products, you should stop using them and follow Scotts recall instructions

The recall instructions are located here.

EPA orders Scotts to stop selling certain pesticides [EPA](Thanks, Greg!)

Comments

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  1. Wow, that’s pretty mega. Either Scotts has dire mismanagement issues, or someone was being seriously shady.

  2. MonkeyMonk says:

    We use the Scott’s Lawn Fertilization Service and recently got a letter from them stating that they had used the recalled products on our lawn earlier in the season. To top things off they offered no recourse for the situation other than the old chestnut that they’re taking the situation very seriously.

    I’m pretty pissed off about the whole situation.As a consumer (with a dog and two small children) who has had potentially dangerous materials applied illegally to their lawn what kind of recourse do I have here? I’m tempted to call them up and cancel the entire service and ask for a full refund for the entire season.

  3. Buran says:

    @MonkeyMonk: Probably small claims court, if complaints, BBB reports, and EECBs, in that order, fail.

  4. Crymson_77 says:

    @MonkeyMonk: I would also advise them of your contacting the State AG, which you should do immediately. By violating federal law with these products, they have placed your family at risk in much the same way as the whole PG&E debacle referenced in the movie “Erin Brokovich”. Your recourse is substantial and I would advise contacting a lawyer immediately to get a class action suit started. Any lawyer worth his salt will be positively SALIVATING over the potential with this one!

  5. satoru says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Looks like a mis-managment of the product cycle. If you have to deal with the EPA or FDA there’s a pretty long and arduous process to get it approved, and it’s not like you’d ‘forget’ this part since you have to do it constantly for each product you produce. I suspect what happened was that they re-branded an existing product and then used the same EPA number, perhaps assuming that it would be fine.

  6. pileofmonkeycrap says:

    That’s some bad sh!t…

  7. dulcinea47 says:

    What are the chances that the chemicals in the products are actually any different than the chemicals that *do* have a proper EPA number?

  8. BoomerFive says:

    @MonkeyMonk: Tempted? That is EXACTLY what I would have done. I smell class action all over this.

  9. consumersaur says:

    Big mistake for sure, but isn’t it more than likely this stuff is perfectly fine — just doesn’t have the right EPA code?

  10. twonewfs says:

    Gee, you’d think a company that is so possessive of its trademarks [consumerist.com]

    would keep better track of EPA numbers.

  11. UnicornMaster says:

    Serves them right for suing TerraCycle, an earth friendly all natural company.

  12. snoop-blog says:

    I love how they advertise that one of their products will help save water. That’s the biggest load of shit ever. Take it from someone with a background in landscaping, there is nothing you can buy that will allow your lawn/plants to grow with less water.

  13. dragonfire81 says:

    They are not sorry they did it, they are sorry they got caught. Plain and simple.

  14. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    Oh noes teh fertilizers are attackings!!@!@!@

    Honestly, it’s fertilizer… try not to lick it and you should be alright… again, Darwin at work, let it slide.

  15. rbb says:

    @Crymson_77: Talk about jumping the gun without the facts. What “risk” was outlined in the EPA noticed? Hint: NONE! The EPA notice was for two of the products being unregistered and for two that made “false or misleading claims or fail to provide adequate safety instructions to protect people and the environment.”

    To lawyer up without even knowing if the individual was really harmed or just had their feelings hurt is just irresponsible.

  16. NotATool says:

    @MonkeyMonk: This “new” fertilizer/herbicide probably contains similar potentially dangerous materials that their other products contain. It’s just that this one isn’t registered correctly.

    Just because it’s registered doesn’t certify it as safe for kids and pets…

  17. consumersaur says:

    @NotATool: Aren’t you scared of undocumented, illegal fertilizers taking your jobs, using your taxes and raping your womens?

  18. winstonthorne says:

    I laugh heartily at people who think they can use “weed killer,” chemical fertilizers, and other pesticides on their lawns with abandon and without consequences. Of COURSE these things are toxic you simple-minded sots! I don’t have a problem with people using these products; only with their bitchery when it turns out that they’re more toxic than expected. Durrr! If your kids die, that’s a Darwin award.

  19. drrictus says:

    Hey, we all know how concerned Scotts is with health and well-being, judging from how they spy on their employees and fire them if they engage in “unhealthy” activities.

  20. Crymson_77 says:

    @rbb: Actually, now is the correct time to lawyer up. Because these products were not registered, or registered incorrectly, there is no environmental impact study that has been completed on the product which means that it could be incredibly disastrous to use.

  21. savvy9999 says:

    Anyone notice how expensive fertilizer is lately? I don’t have receipts to prove my theory, but when I bought a bag of Scott’s earlier this spring the price tag shocked me. Seems like twice as much as last year.

  22. rbb says:

    @Crymson_77: But does registration or incorrect registration actually mean an environmental impact study must be performed? Or is it a “technical” formality required for any fertilizer product, even if it is just a change in the name of the product? My point is that a lack of registration or an incorrect registration does not imply a risk of any type.

  23. Crymson_77 says:

    @rbb: Since we are talking about PESTICIDES, absolutely an environmental impact must be done. If it is strong enough to get into the water table, it can make A LOT of people sick. That is WHY they even DO environmental impact studies. Or would you like some ant killer in your Kool Aid?

    As for a rebranding, they are required to show the already COMPLETED impact study before they are allowed to market it. Regardless of rebranding or new, I would rather have safe water to drink…wouldn’t you?

  24. rewinditback says:

    so… what about those who used this product on our lawns? did i just pour depleted uranium grains all over my property or what?

  25. Crymson_77 says:

    @rewinditback: Please see my comment above. Even if this turns out to be harmless (relatively speaking), the total lack of responsibility in the marketing and shipping of these products is enough to make MiracleGro and Scotts go out of business thanks to all the money that can be won in court at their expense…

  26. ViperBorg says:

    @twonewfs: The EPA number isn’t part of the logo, so they don’t care.
    @WarOtter: But then where o where will our tax dollars go? Education? Ha!

  27. ByeBye says:

    Another day, another recall!
    Shall I put this in my mouth as well and put a picture of it up on here?

    I’ve been using this stuff on my front and back yards for about a month with gloves, goggles and face mask…does this mean I’m still at risk?

  28. DallasPath says:

    On the state level, you might try contacting your department of agriculture. My husband owns a landscaping company and his chemical application license comes through the TDA (texas department of agriculture) Depending on the state, they have quite a bit of power and take things very seriously ;)

    Improper commercial application or commercial application without a license (in Texas at least) is a huge fine. You have to carry 1 million in insurance at a minimum to do it. Scott’s is probably going to be in a heap of trouble over this, especially if they were applying it on a commercial level.

  29. @savvy9999: The amount of energy required to produce nitrogen fertilizer is ENORMOUS. (Mother nature does it with lightning bolts. And legumes, but that’s a little different.) And that energy primarily comes from fossil fuel.

    It might be a little cheaper if you use natural nitrogen fertilizers like bloodmeal, but then you have to apply ingredient-at-a-time instead of getting one NPK package.

  30. cleo159 says:

    I actually work at company related to the Scotts debacle. The EPA press release makes it seem like Scotts just mixed up mystery bug juice and put it in the product, but actually they contain common and well-known pesticides. They’ve been around for a long time, are extensively tested and have been approved for all kinds of uses by the EPA. These pesticides are very common in the lawn care industry, so even if you went with another lawn care company, they’d almost certainly use the same ones, and probably in similar formulations. The problem is with the labels. The formulation, instructions, uses, precautions, claims of efficacy, everything on every product label has to be approved by the EPA (believe me, companies would not waste all that space telling you how bad their product is if they didn’t have to). EPA approval is, for good reason, a long and arduous process, even for small reformulations or slight changes in usage. In this case, one impatient and very fired employee submitted the labels to the EPA, got them approved, changed them to be more favorable to Scotts, and then mailed them off for state-by-state approval. The states assumed the EPA did a sufficient job, rubber stamped them, and off they went into production. The employee then got so ambitious as to just make up EPA approval numbers for other products, which is just stupid. This is super serious and Scotts is firing people left and right, but it’s not Erin Brokovich scary. These formulations, with stricter labels, would almost certainly have been approved by the EPA for consumer use. Nonetheless, you should definitely return your recalled products, and expressing your displeasure and requesting compensation from Scotts is not unreasonable.

  31. LintySoul says:

    less lawn, more plants

  32. evilhapposai says:

    Scott’s is on the same level of scum in my book as Walmart, Comcast, and a few other companies that always make the final rounds in “worst company in America” here. They consistently hide screw-ups and make their employees sick (Friend’s dad was a factory foreman there and is now dying of emphysema and other lung disorders, he never smoked or been near anyone that does). Also Scotts spys on their employees and ANYTHING (especially anyone) that may cost them some medical expense in the future they ax immediately. They play big brother to such an extreme not only will a employee be fired if they smoke AT HOME but even if they live in a home with another smoker and NOT smoke themselves! They test all employees with swabs for tobacco! When I worked there Scott’s went on a witch hunt a fired people or made up excuses to get rid of anyone with health issues, disabilities, overweight, carpal tunnel, smokers, etc. Then told me I could not be hired whenever I would apply for a position in the company (I was never fired, job assignment with 3rd party hiring firm ended). When I would demand a copy of my work record to see why they either “could not find it” or refused to give it to me. Add to this all the public heath concerns like the non registered EPA labels, denying the asbestos finds in products uncovered by the local news in the early part of 2001/2, the chemical “cap” and the toxic sludge that was busted open in the creek nearby. and many other finds. This cesspool company has been ruining lives and the environment for the last 100 years and more. Time for the EPA to throw some corporate weed killer on them, or at least throw the book at them this time!

  33. LogicalOne says:

    @savvy9999: Yep. I bought a 14 lb. bag of Vigoro fertilizer this year to use along with the 16 lb. bag I bought but didn’t use last year. Funny thing though, they both miraculously cover the same 5000 sq. feet!

  34. cloud-on-a-bike says:

    I hate Scotts so much and not just for all the reasons posted above (about how badly they big-brother their employees, although I do have a co-worker who was basically told to walk away from her job because she was a smoker or else they would fire her and not give a good recommendation for her next job, and she was high management…).

    They make Marysville smell *so* bad. Whenever you are driving on 33 with the windows down, you always know when you are getting close to the Scotts exit because of the horrible, chemical smell in the air. If the wind is really bad that day, the smell will drift all over downtown and it makes you feel like you just rolled around in chemicals. Sometimes when I eat lunch outside, I can smell it and it turns my stomach.

    On top of that, they donated vouchers for a free bottle of Miracle Grow for a program we were doing at work and when people tried to redeem them, we got feedback about them all being refused and some were accused of making fake vouchers just to get free crap! Granted, they were really poor looking vouchers that were basically just xeroxed on red copy paper, but THEY were the ones who made them!

    Rude!

  35. GeorgePentheus says:

    I just happened across this – but why do people think they need all
    this fertilizer anyway? for the grass? f your grass won’t grow, there’s
    a bigger problem and you need water or another type of grass. I have
    bought 10 pounds of fertilizer in the past 6 years, and I don’t waste
    it on our lawn – only give some garden veggies and roses a sparing
    boost. We have lawn clippings (nitrogen) and plenty of vegetation (from
    the kitchen and yard) that can easily be composted into much safer and
    already paid-for fertilizer. I’ve always had success with the “less is
    more” approach.

    -Kate

  36. CPC24 says:

    I don’t know if they’ve changed the formula, but Miracle-Gro doesn’t seem to work as well as it once did. I just started sprinkling generic fertlizer on my vegetables and am getting much better results now.

  37. pinkyracer says:

    this is awesome! This is what they get for trying to slap an indefensible lawsuit onto innocent, eco-friendly startup TerraCycle.