Crackdown on dodgy hand sanitiser

 

New rules will force hand sanitiser manufacturers to print the alcohol content on every label to help people avoid dodgy products too weak to kill the COVID-19 virus.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar has signed off on a new information standard mandating hand sanitiser companies include the safety information on every product, following a recommendation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

 

Australian consumers have been warned to only purchase sanitisers with at least 60 to 80 per cent alcohol, depending on the type.

Mr Sukkar told The Daily Telegraph the new labelling laws would give Australians "full confidence" they're buying a product that works.

"The Morrison Government expects suppliers to provide safe and effective hand sanitiser products, in appropriate packaging, with relevant warnings at all times," he said.

The ACCC is currently investigating allegations some suppliers have made false or misleading claims about alcohol content during the pandemic.

Consumer advocate group Choice has been testing hand sanitisers throughout the pandemic, finding several brands that came in well below the threshold.

Hand sanitiser manufacturers must comply with new labelling laws. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jenny Evans
Hand sanitiser manufacturers must comply with new labelling laws. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jenny Evans

This month Choice revealed White Knight Hand Sanitiser 500ml had only 52 per cent alcohol, despite claiming it had 75 per cent.

The product has since been pulled from shelves by the suppliers as it conducted urgent testing.

Choice found beyond the "simple failure" to meet alcohol levels needed for a hand sanitiser to be effective, there were also problems with the way the information was provided on labels as some brands mixed weight and volume.

"This can make it difficult to know whether a product meets the recommended concentration of alcohol," a Choice statement said.

As the coronavirus pandemic took over hundreds of businesses switched to manufacturing hand sanitiser, with the marketing and sales of some products described by Choice as "especially troubling".

"Price gouging on essential items and panic marketing is bad behaviour," Choice said.

"Selling products that promise to protect you against a deadly virus when they won't is far worse."

In another shocking Australian example, women's clothing retailer Mosaic Brands put out a hand sanitiser Choice found had just 27 per cent alcohol.

Originally published as Crackdown on dodgy hand sanitiser


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