William Eichler 23 March 2020

Trading standards officers seize bottles of ‘harmful’ hand sanitizer

Trading standards enforcement officers in Birmingham have seized bottles of potentially harmful hand sanitizer from a trader looking to capitalize on the coronavirus outbreak.

A number of the sanitizer bottles, which were being sold for £5 each, were purported to contain an ingredient called glutaral (or glutaraldehyde) which is banned for human use. Other bottles were not labelled at all.

Glutaral can be used in cleaning products and has previously been used by the NHS to clean surgical tools and surfaces.

However, the substance was subject to a non-approval decision under the EU Biocidal Products Regulations for use in Product Type 1 – Human Hygiene disinfectants back in April 2014, therefore products were no longer allowed to be marketed after May 2015 for use in, for example, hand sanitisers.

‘Trading Standards seized 51 bottles of potentially harmful hand sanitizer from a Birmingham trader yesterday,’ said Tony Quigley, head of Trading Standards at Birmingham City Council.

‘Due to inconsistency in the labelling it is not clear whether these products were counterfeit, or expired products containing the banned ingredient glutaral.

‘The most concerning thing for us is that if the contents of this sanitiser reflect the label, then they contain an ingredient that was stopped from being used in in this type of product in 2014. Others had no labels so we cannot be sure of what they contain.’

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