VF Corporation subsidiary The North Face has responded to a recent lawsuit filed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), related to the marketing of a pesticide used in some of its footwear.

The company stressed that the suit was about the description of the pesticide - which the EPA alleges is objectionable - rather than the actual pesticide, which it says is registered with the EPA.

It follows news this week that the EPA was to file a lawsuit against parent firm VF Corporation, for making "unsubstantiated" claims that the footwear would prevent disease-causing bacteria.

It relates to more than 70 styles of footwear that incorporated an 'Agion' silver treated footbed, with the EPA saying VF could face nearly US$1m in federal fines following the claims.

"This is a regrettable situation that The North Face takes very seriously," stated Steve Rendle, president of The North Face and VF Corporation's Outdoor Americas coalition. "We want to be clear: our footwear utilised and continues to utilise an EPA-registered product which the EPA registered as safe for use in footwear. This is not a product concern, but rather an issue with the description of the material being used in production."

The North Face said it became aware that the EPA wanted to review marketing information used to describe certain footwear styles that used the technology in February 2008. It has now stopped making claims that the footwear protects against germs and revised packaging.

The company added: "As an apparel company, The North Face works with partners and third parties for sourcing and materials. Like other manufacturers, The North Face uses EPA-registered Agion antimicrobial technology in the top sheet of footbeds to control odors.

"According to the Agion website, Agion is a patented antimicrobial silver agent technology providing built-in protection by naturally and continuously resisting the growth of microbes."