Have you bought a sanitiser that doesn’t meet standards? Here’s how to tell

Hand sanitiser must have at least 70% alcohol content, or a generic alternative with a similar sanitising effect.
Image: AFP/ PHILIP FONG

TimesLIVE revealed that Sci-Corp Laboratories found some hand sanitisers being sold in SA or used at store entrances do not meet the recommended requirements.

But how do you know if you are getting conned or should turn down the spray as you enter a store?

Here’s what you need to know:

Effective sanitiser

Hand sanitiser must have at least 70% alcohol content or a generic alternative with a similar sanitising effect, according to health department recommendations and government regulations.

This is echoed by regulatory body the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

Sanitisers that meet the bureau’s conditions have a “drug facts” label you can check to see if the product has the recommended ingredients and levels. Certified sanitiser products bear the SABS-approved logo.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends using sanitisers with more than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.

How to check if sanitiser is legit

Certified sanitiser products are certified against South African National Standards (SANS) 490 and SANS 1853 to carry the SABS approved mark.

They will bear the SABS approved logo and should have one or both the SANS 490 and SANS 1853 marks below the SABS logo.

“The mark can be affixed onto the bottle with a sticker or be imprinted on the bottle. The product must clearly stipulate the batch number, the expiry date, the ingredients and the percentage of the alcohol used.

“SABS is also committed to work with other regulators such as the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, the department of health and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority to ensure that safe, tested and certified products are sold within SA,” said Scholtz.

You can check here to see the certification status of hand sanitiser companies and products.

Less-effective sanitisers bust

TimesLIVE reported that Sci-Corp Laboratories found five of 11 samples tested recently contained less than 70% alcohol.

Nine were bought from retail stores in the Pietermaritzburg area and two were samples of sanitiser sprayed on customers’ hands at store or mall entrances.

Among those that did not meet the requirements were the sanitiser sprayed on customers’ hands at the entrance to Mr Price Home in Liberty Mall (66.5% ethanol) and Oh So Heavenly’s 2-in-1 hygiene waterless hand cleanser (65.3% ethanol), even though it was claimed to contain 70% alcohol.

Those that met the requirements included Woolworths’ name brand and sanitisers supplied to Pick n Pay and Dis-Chem.

False claims 

According to the SABS, more manufacturers are distributing uncertified products as hand sanitisers are increasingly flooding the market thanks to Covid-19.

In a statement, SABS said some of the uncertified products claim to be SABS approved or carry the SABS Mark Scheme number, which are false claims.

“The SABS has received numerous queries regarding the fraudulent use of the SABS-approved mark on products and while we have taken legal action against the illegal use of our mark we urge South African consumers to remain vigilant and not to use untested and uncertified products.

“Uncertified products could be dangerous for a number of reasons that include adverse reactions to humans and the environment, the harmful effects of unidentified ingredients, bacterial and microbial impurities as well as simply just not being suitable for use on oneself,” said Jodi Scholtz, lead administrator of SABS.

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