Santa Rosa, CA – October 5, 2020 – District Attorney's Jill Ravitch announced that Tropical Seas, Inc. (“TS”) of Florida has agreed to resolve a civil environmental enforcement case filed by the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with 21 district attorney offices in California. The civil complaint alleges violations of the false advertising laws and unlawful business practices for misleading and unsubstantiated claims directed at consumers who wanted to protect the environment and coral reefs.
Defendant TS makes “Reef Safe” sunscreen products and markets products in California (and elsewhere) as “biodegradable” and “safe” for coral reefs. TS was unable to substantiate these marketing claims when pressed as part of a statewide investigation. There is consensus among the scientific community that ingredients in sunscreen harm coral reefs. As a result, some states and countries have banned certain sunscreen products.
District Attorney Ravitch stated, “The false and misleading promotion of sunscreen products as reef safe and as non-toxic to sea life not only misled environmentally conscious consumers but also caused consumers to use Tropical Seas’ “Reef Safe” products in fragile ecosystems.”
As part of the resolution, TS agreed to pay $50,000.00, including investigative costs, civil penalties and restitution. TS is permanently enjoined from making claims related to the non-toxicity and safety of its sunscreen products to the health of coral reefs, marine and sea life in California. As part of the resolution TS agreed to pay restitution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the benefit of coral reefs inside of the United States and its territories. TS is required to notify the companies it sells to regarding the judgment and for five years, the company’s president (Daniel Knorr) must certify compliance with the judgment.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Ann Gallagher White from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office with Deputy District Attorney Dije Ndreu from the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.