The EPA’s guidance on the WDL not only establishes labeling requirements, but it also establishes certain technology capabilities and information content requirements. One very important aspect to consider about developing WDL websites is that if the WDL site URL provided on the printed label is the company’s corporate website, the EPA notes that the “web site becomes labeling under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) and is subject to review by the Agency.” This means that all contents of that website are then considered labeling and subject to FIFRA.
To avoid this predicament, companies may consider creating a separate WDL website that would provide users only the WDL they requested. This website may include links to other information on another website, however, the EPA recommends including a disclaimer statement to the effect that the user is leaving the labeling portion of the website and going to another site that is not part of the WDL site. The EPA also stresses that any claims made on the website must not substantially differ from claims approved during the registration process as any such claims could result in an enforcement action.
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Regarding website functionality, users of a WDL website must be able to search by unique identifier, state, and site of application, and must be provided both the general product information that applies across all sites, as well as site-specific information. The EPA states that the labeling content provided should be subdivided by state and use site, and on a case-by-case basis, additional subdivisions may be allowed, such as application method. The rendered format of the WDL must also conform to 40 CFR Part 156—Labeling Requirements for Pesticides and Devices.
The EPA will also consider the availability of the website in the WDL approval process, and recommends that websites be accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, and experience minimum downtime, exclusive of maintenance downtime. In addition, the EPA recommends website developers consider the number of people that may be accessing the site at any one time as well as a reasonable minimum response time for WDL searches. Website URLs should also be 25 characters or fewer, be easy to read and easy to identify, and link directly to the WDL website. The EPA also recommends that website developers take into account that many rural areas do not have broadband Internet access.
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Considering ease of use, the EPA states that WDL websites not require users to log-in or pay a fee to access labeling content, should only require “common computer capabilities and software,” and should not require users to download special software when accessing the website from a traditional computer. At a minimum, the EPA recommends providing WDL content in PDF format (and include a link to the Adobe Acrobat Reader download site), however, other technologies may also be used such as apps for smartphones and tablets.
Security is another factor the EPA will consider in the WDL approval process, including:
- Secure access to upload or change labeling;
- Ensuring that the WDL site content, including labeling, is up to date and accurate; and
- Ensuring the labeling provided by the website cannot be altered by users.
To manage security, the EPA recommends maintaining an audit history that includes anyone performing any activity other than accessing labels.
Companies that are approved for the WDL also have the right to cease their online programs at any time. To discontinue the WDL service, the company would end the online availability of the WDL, and printed product labels would then state that no WDL is available for the product and that users should follow the instructions contained in the printed label on the container.