Business & Real Estate

State fines KÜHL clothing maker for anti-bacterial product claims

The company that manufactures the KÜHL brand of outdoor clothing has agreed to pay an $86,715 fine for making unsubstantiated claims that the clothing it sells in California protects people’s bodies from bacteria, said the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

The department’s complaint said that Alfwear Inc., the Salt Lake City-based maker of KÜHL clothing, sold a line of 28 products between 2012 and 2015 with a silver ion anti-microbial whose labels implied the clothing kept bacteria off people.

That use of the product had not been registered with the state, said department spokeswoman Charlotte Fadipe.

Alfwear Inc. has voluntarily pulled its mislabeled items from store shelves and changed the labeling to comply with California and federal law. The KÜHL product lines go under names such as Infinite, Stealth and Krawler.

The KÜHL clothing was culled from a random inspection of products at the Folsom location of retailer REI. That inspection discovered clothes – mostly shirts – sold under the KÜHL brand claiming to fight the growth of bacteria or reduce bacterial growth on individuals.

California requires manufacturers and sellers of products that claim to protect individuals from bacteria, germs or other microorganisms to register their products as pesticides with the state. The requirement allows department scientists to verify a pesticide’s safety and efficacy, Fadipe said.

“The issue is that KÜHL made misleading claims – they led people to believe that if you bought these shirts you would be protected from bacteria,” Fadipe said.

The clothing maker said it has already registered its Silvadur silver ion product with the department as an antimicrobial for clothing and believes the state is overreaching with its fine. “Honestly it comes down to the fact that they’re hunting for money,” said KÜHL President Kevin Boyle.

Boyle claims the fine resulted only from the company omitting language on tags that would have said the clothing had anti-bacterial properties for the clothing itself but not for humans. “This all comes down to vocabulary,” Boyle said.

Edward Ortiz: 916-321-1071, @edwardortiz