Popular hand sanitiser withdrawn from sale
A hand sanitiser brand sold by a popular Australian retailer has been slammed by a consumer watchdog amid accusations the product failed to meet the required level of alcohol in a spot check test.
But the brand disputes the findings made by Choice, accusing the consumer advocacy body of publishing "misleading" claims.
Mosaic Brands is a retail group whose brands include Katies, Rivers, Noni B, Rockmans and Millers.
It began selling hand sanitiser online via its stores' websites earlier this year as Australia experienced nationwide shortages of the product due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Choice said it received "multiple community tip-offs" about Mosaic's products, prompting it to commission a spot check of one of its hand sanitisers, the Air Clean Instant Hand Sanitiser.
The brand claims to contain 70 per cent ethyl alcohol, however a Choice-commissioned test by the National Measurement Institute found only 23 per cent.
Choice's director of campaigns Erin Turner said the finding posted a "major public health risk".
The consumer body has lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), as well as notifying the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
"In the COVID-19 context, ineffective sanitiser is a major public health risk. In order to be effective, a hand sanitiser must have enough alcohol. It's very worrying that Choice has found a hand sanitiser sample with only 23 per cent alcohol, when it should have between 60 and 80 per cent, depending on the formula," Ms Turner said in a statement.
"As a result of our spot check on this Mosaic sample, Choice is now conducting further testing of sanitiser available across Australia.
"We have also referred Mosaic to the regulators to determine if this is a one-off issue with a small batch or something more concerning. We welcome actions from Mosaic to withdraw the products from sale and conduct further testing themselves - this is the responsible course of action given the risks involved."
MOSAIC BRANDS RESPONDS
Mosaic Brands confirmed it had temporarily pulled the Air Clean hand sanitiser brand from its stores while it investigated the claims.
In a statement provided to news.com.au, Mosaic Brands rejected Choice's findings and blasted the consumer body for publishing the spot test results.
"We dispute Choice's assertion as we have documentation stating that the alcohol content of this batch of hand sanitiser is not in line with Choice's claim and is within the range to eliminate 99.8 per cent of germs," a spokesman said.
The Mosaic spokesman said it was "most unfortunate" Choice had published its findings before the retail group could investigate further.
"We believe that Choice's insistence on publishing the article today is irresponsible as it risks alarming buyers of the product unnecessarily if these further tests confirm that the alcohol level is as stated in the documentation we have received from the manufacturer."
HOW TO KNOW YOUR HAND SANITISER WORKS
Hand sanitiser with the right alcohol content will evaporate as you rub your hands together and shouldn't feel sticky.
To effectively kill germs it needs to contain between 60 to 80 per cent alcohol with the World Health Organisation recommending that hand sanitiser contain at least 75 per cent isopropyl alcohol or 80 per cent ethanol to fight coronavirus.
Originally published as Popular hand sanitiser withdrawn from sale