After illegally-labeled household products containing pesticides were found on the shelves of 99¢ Only Stores, a federal judge has ordered the retail chain to pay $409,490 in penalties.

[Images: Photos of products with the illegal labels.]

The stores were cited for 166 violations for selling unlawfully-branded cleaning and pest control products, including a disinfecting cleaner imported from Mexico that was not registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), despite misleading claims on the label that it was. The fine is the largest contested fine the agency has handed down to a product retailer, according to the EPA.

Two other products under fire are an unregistered pesticide and an acid roach killer containing EPA-approved labels that were upside-down or inside out, making them illegible or difficult to read.

“Consumers who bring cleaning products into their homes expect them to be safe and effective, with clear labeling that gives them the facts,” Kathy Taylor, a spokesperson for the EPA, said in a statement. “This penalty should send a deterrent message to retailers that they must comply with the law regulating pesticides.”

The full names of the products are:

  • Bref Limpieza y Disinfección Total con Densicloro (Bref Complete Cleaning and Disinfection with Densicloro)
  • Farmer’s Secret Berry & Produce Cleaner
  • PiC BORIC ACID Roach Killer III

The “99¢ Only Stores” retail chain, headquartered in City of Commerce, Calif., owns 273 store branches in four states (204 in California, 32 in Texas, 25 in Arizona, and 12 in Nevada), according to the EPA.

The discount chain was also found guilty of selling 658 bottles of the mislabeled “Bref” cleaner in store branches across California, Arizona and Nevada. The violations were discovered during multiple inspections by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Nevada Department of Agriculture from 2004 to 2008.

“All pesticide distributors — discounters and high-end retailers alike — must comply with the law. This company’s disregard for state and federal law in its business practices has led to a penalty that reflects the seriousness of the violations,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

Remy Melina is a staff writer at Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to MyHealthNewsDaily.