March 20, 2015 12:20 AM EDT

U.S clothing retail chain T.J. Maxx has pulled an ill-advised T-shirt from its shelves, after a photo posted by a customer went viral and sparked outrage on social media.

The product in question, manufactured by beachwear brand Tavik, is a white t-shirt bearing the words “Hang Loose” — a common surfing term. The problem? Those two words are separated by the image of a noose.

Predictably, Twitter wasn’t happy.

“As soon as we became aware of the offensive T-shirt message, we initiated the process to remove this item from our stores,” T.J. Maxx spokeswoman Doreen Thompson told CNN. “We mistakenly purchased a few hundred units of the item, and unfortunately, with thousands of products coming into each of our stores every week, our product review process missed this item.”

Tavik’s public relations head Kelly McElroy also said the clothing company had pulled the item from all retailers and destroyed the remaining units. “We sincerely apologize for any offense caused by this T-shirt,” she said. “This item was released without going through proper protocols and is not related to anything other than surfing.”

Write to Rishi Iyengar at

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