Two San Joaquin Valley pesticide dealers were penalized a total of $105,000 for knowingly selling a pesticide product for a use not allowed by the label - controlling mites on peaches, Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Director Brian R. Leahy announced today. The product was propargite - trade name Comite - commonly used in California on field and some vegetable crops.
“Our investigation found that dealers who employ pest control advisers sold the product to growers who did not produce any field crops on which the product could legally be used,” Leahy said. “Dealers are licensed by DPR and responsible for knowing and complying with pesticide laws. Their compliance with these laws is critical to ensure the safety of the public, workers and our food supply.”
Under the settlements, which were based on the number of sales:
● Gar Tootelian Inc. of Reedley in Fresno County paid a $60,000 penalty for unlawfully selling Comite in Fresno and Tulare counties from 2008 through 2010 for a use not stated on the product’s registered label.
●Britz-Simplot Grower Solutions LLC of Traver in Tulare County paid a $45,000 penalty for selling Comite in Fresno and Tulare counties from 2009 through 2010 for the same violation.
Both companies agreed to implement control measures to ensure these violations do not occur again.
The investigation was initiated after illegal residues of propargite were detected on peaches collected in July 2010 by DPR’s residue monitoring program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency canceled use of this pesticide on peaches in 1996. Although illegal, the residue was at such a low level it did not pose a health risk to farm workers or consumers.
DPR immediately directed removal of the peaches from the market. More than 2.4 million pounds of peaches with an estimated value of more than $1.1 million were affected.
The monitoring program collects produce samples from wholesale and retail outlets, chain store distribution centers and farmers’ markets for testing at California Department of Food and Agriculture’s laboratories. The laboratories test for more than 200 pesticides and breakdown products.
The Fresno, Kings and Tulare county agricultural commissioners’ offices assisted in the investigation.