Government's major move amid dodgy hand sanitiser bombshell

Penny Burfitt
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read

A popular brand of hand sanitiser sold at united petrol stations has failed a spot check by consumer group Choice, with the brand being pulled from shelves in response.

And now the government has confirmed they will be introducing new information standards in response.

Common sanitiser brand White Knight, an associated company of United Petroleum whose petrol stations sell the product, failed an industry test after a sample was found to contain well below the required percentage of alcohol as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

United Petrol station hand sanitiser test fail controversy
United petrol stations's brand of hand sanitiser failed a key test by consumer group Choice. Photo: United Petroleum

Choice senior campaigner Dean Price explained that the tested sample showed only 52% alcohol, with 60% to 80% alcohol required to make a formula effective in killing viruses like COVID-19 depending on the type of alcohol used.

“White Knight hand sanitiser, sold online and through United petrol stations, was found to contain only 52% alcohol, well below the amount required to be effective against viruses such as the novel coronavirus” Mr Price said in a statement released by the group.

Choice graphic outlining hand sanitiser fail White Knight product
Choice discovered the product claiming to contain 75% alcohol only contained 52%. Photo: Choice

The product claimed to contain 75% alcohol on the packaging, despite being shown to contain just 52%.

In the wake of the findings and an earlier discovery that Aussie retailer Mosaic Brands was labelling 20% alcohol sanitiser as 70% in July, Choice called on the government to enforce regulations on hand sanitisers.

ACCC ‘investigating’ dodgy sanitiser claims, proposes new requirements

This afternoon Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar confirmed the government will be proposing new requirements for producers of hand sanitisers to disclose their alcohol content to consumers in the wake of the findings.

“The Morrison Government takes the safety of Australians very seriously,” Mr Sukkar tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“The ACCC is finalising a proposed new information standard to improve the safety of hand sanitisers and provide consumers with a clearer understanding of the product they choose.

The new standard will require hand sanitiser products to disclose alcohol content on product packaging and include safety warnings.”

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Currently, retailers do not have to meet a minimum alcohol content requirement to label products as hand sanitisers and are not required to disclose the amount of alcohol in their product by law.

ACCC to investigate ‘misleading’ alcohol content claims

Choice group hand sanitiser White Knight fails alcohol test, ineffective against the virus
Mr Price warned consumers to stop using the White Knight sanitiser immediatly. Photo: Choice/ United Petroleum

In response to the findings, United Petroleum agreed to immediately withdraw the product from United Petrol Station shelves and assess the issue.

Mr Price issued a warning to consumers: “If you’ve bought White Knight Sanitiser, we recommend you stop using it immediately.”

Mr Sukkar says the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating Choice’s fidnings.

“Further, the ACCC is investigating allegations that some hand sanitiser suppliers have made false or misleading claims about alcohol content,” he says.

“The Government expects suppliers to provide safe and effective hand sanitiser products, in appropriate packaging, with relevant warnings at all times.”

United Petroleum has been contacted for comment.

Choice calls for government regulation of hand sanitiser brands

Earlier this year, Choice claimed that Aussie retailer Mosaic Brands was labelling 20% alcohol sanitiser as 70% in July.

Mosaic is the company behind fashion retailers Katies, Rockmans, Rivers and Noni B and was earlier this year criticised by the consumer advocate for engaging in COVID-19 panic marketing.

Mosaic rejected Choice’s finding, and Choice raised a complaint with the ACCC and notified the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of the issue.

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