Consumer group CHOICE is spearheading a campaign for the federal government to intervene and fix the labelling laws around hand sanitising products.
It comes after a survey revealed widespread confusion among Australians about the quality, effectiveness and monitoring of hand sanitiser products.
The survey revealed many people were under the incorrect assumption that alcohol-free sanitisers could protect them from COVID-19.
Around 66 per cent of those surveyed either didn’t know (36 per cent) or incorrectly believed (30 per cent) that alcohol-free sanitisers would protect them from COVID-19, highlighting a major information gap that could result in many consumers buying products that won’t protect them.
CHOICE was also concerned that many hand sanitisers on the market were lacking key information about the alcohol content of the product, which made it increasingly difficult for consumers to purchase products that meet the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Hand sanitiser standards and labelling in Australia is a confusing mess,” said CHOICE health campaigner Dean Price.
“Right now, companies can call non-alcoholic gel products ‘hand sanitiser’ even when there’s no good evidence these products offer effective protection against viruses.
“These dud ‘sanitisers’ can sit on the same supermarket shelves as genuinely effective options. We need better labels to help people find sanitisers guaranteed to protect them and their families,” he said.
“The Australian government has an opportunity to fix sanitiser labels with better regulation and to resource spot checks to make sure the sanitisers on the market actually protect people against viruses,” explained Mr Price.
The survey, which had 1013 respondents aged between 18–70, also revealed that 59 per cent incorrectly believed that hand sanitisers were required by law to show the percentage of alcohol they contained on the label and 49 per cent incorrectly believed hand sanitisers were required by law to contain a certain amount of alcohol.
A CHOICE spot test of supermarket hand sanitisers in September found that all of the products from a major retailer did meet the minimum alcohol requirements recommended by authorities, although many failed to label the percentage of alcohol in their products.
CHOICE is calling on assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar to implement a national labelling standard for sanitiser products so that only effective products can use the term ‘hand sanitiser’ and provide regular spot checks to ensure these standards are met.
Australians can join the campaign to change the labelling laws at choice.com.au.
Did you know any product was able to call itself hand sanitiser without meeting minimum standards? Should these labelling laws be fixed before they present a problem?
If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.