A hand sanitiser sold in Australian stores has been withdrawn from sale after it was found it might not contain enough alcohol to kill coronavirus.
- Choice has claimed a brand’s hand sanitiser was “far below” an effective alcohol level
- The consumer group said it will test a range of products to make sure they are safe
- Mosaic Brands, whose product is under the spotlight, said the accusation was “sensationalist”
Consumer group Choice said a hand sanitiser product sold by Mosaic Brands returned a result of 23 per cent alcohol.
The gold standard for hand sanitiser is 60-80 per cent alcohol — the level required to kill coronavirus if it is on your hands.
Earlier in the pandemic, experts raised fears that variations in alcohol levels meant products marketed as hand sanitiser were futile in preventing transmission of coronavirus.
Mosaic Brands, the retailer behind women’s fashion stores Noni-B and Katies, said the accusations were “sensationalist” and irresponsible.
The company said their tests confirmed “the alcohol content … is within the range to eliminate 99.8 per cent of germs”, but when asked, did not specify the range in numerical terms.
The brand confirmed they had temporarily withdrawn the Air Clean Instant Hand Sanitiser from sale to undergo further testing, but disputed Choice’s claims that the alcohol level was “far below what would have been effective against COVID-19”.
The World Health Organization standard requires at least 80 per cent ethanol or 75 per cent isopropyl alcohol.
Andrew McLachlan from Sydney University’s School of Pharmacy said that washing hands with soap and water was still the best defence in preventing transmission of COVID-19.
“In any market where there’s significant demand but not very clear regulation about the nature of the products, there’s a risk that some products would enter the market that are substandard.”
He advised customers to look at the label to ensure it contains at least 60 per cent alcohol or ethanol content.
“Expensive doesn’t always mean better and pleasantly smelling doesn’t always mean better,” Professor McLachlan said.
“It’s really about the ingredients and whether they’ve been appropriately tested.”
Choice said that they had received dozens of tip-offs about different products that they would now begin to test.
“Lots of companies and brands have moved into the market, responding to genuine consumer need,” Choice’s director of campaigns Erin Turner said.
“But we need to make sure the products are at a standard that keeps us all safe.”
Ms Turner said more brands needed to proactively check their products and conduct spot-checks to ensure consumer safety.