Pleasanton Weekly

- December 2, 2011

Clorox settles specialty bleach bottling case

Agrees to pay $200,000 in penalties without admitting liability

by Jeb Bing

The Clorox Company, which will shortly move more than 1,000 employees into a new corporate campus being developed in Pleasanton, has entered into a settlement regarding the contents of household bleach containers with Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley.

Marin, Monterey, Napa and Sonoma counties joined Alameda County in bringing a consumer protection regulatory action.

The district attorneys in Marin, Monterey, Napa and Sonoma counties joined Alameda County in investigating two specialty bleach products sold in retail locations throughout California from January 2008 to January 2010: Anti-Allergen Bleach and Cold-Water Bleach.

The district attorneys alleged that these specialty bleaches were sold in the same 3-liter bottles as Clorox Regular Bleach, yet were filled to only 80% of capacity in violation of California's Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. The action was filed in Alameda County and the Clorox Company stipulated to the judgment without admitting liability.

The Clorox Company is now subject to an injunction that prohibits it from selling any household bleach product that is packaged in such a way as to be misleading, deceptive or contain any unnecessary headspace, O'Malley said. Clorox has also agreed to pay $199,654.00 in civil penalties, law enforcement costs and restitution.

The California Division of Measurement Standards and local Weights and Measures Departments brought the consumer action to the attention of the local district attorneys offices

O'Malley said the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act protects consumers against deception or misrepresentation by requiring that commodities be packaged and labeled in a manner that will facilitate value comparisons and enable consumers to obtain accurate information about the quantity of the contents. She added that it is unlawful to package a commodity in such a manner that is likely to mislead the consumer about the contents or to fill, form or making a container that creates headspace in the packaging that is unnecessary.

It was the opinion of the district attorneys from the five counties that the two specialty bleach products formerly sold by the Clorox Company were incompatible with existing law.

"Weights and measures laws exist so that consumers may accurately calculate the costs of their purchases," O'Malley said. "It allows consumers to do meaningful comparison shopping between businesses and products."

"The Alameda County district attorney's office will remain vigilant in addressing weights and measures cases," she added. "Misrepresentations of the actual contents of a product harm both consumers and other businesses."

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