United Kingdom

Hand sanitiser sold online could be leaving users at risk of covid, investigation finds

Hand sanitiser being sold online could leave users at risk of covid, a Which? investigation has found.

Tests carried but by the consumer watchdog found a range of products made misleading claims about alcohol content and risk leaving consumers unprotected against coronavirus because they do not contain recommended levels.

The consumer champion found that the worst offending hand sanitiser had an alcohol content of just 10 per cent, a fraction of the 75 per cent claimed - leaving people using it particularly exposed to bacteria and viruses.

For hand sanitiser to be effective at killing the COVID-19 virus, it should have 60 to 90 per cent alcohol content. In Which?'s latest research scientists put a range of 18 products available at high street retailers, supermarkets and online marketplaces to the test.

Three hand sanitisers bought from online marketplaces eBay and Etsy did not contain the percentage of alcohol that was claimed on either the product listing page or the packaging, and fell well short of the recommended levels for killing off viruses.

Klenzy Hand Sanitizing Gel, which was available for sale on eBay, claimed to have 75 per cent alcohol content, but Which? tests revealed people who had bought this product had been duped, as it contained just 10 per cent.

The VaidaMakeup Hand Sanitiser Gel (33% alcohol content), on Etsy, and Hansan Antibacterial Hand Sanitiser (35%), on eBay, were also misleading. Both contained around half of the 70 per cent alcohol levels that were claimed.

After Which? contacted eBay it said it had removed both the product listings that the consumer champion had flagged and that the sellers would no longer be permitted to sell hand sanitiser on the site.

The seller on Etsy told Which? that it had removed the listing and contacted all customers to warn them of the lower alcohol content in the sanitiser and to offer a full refund.

Which? has shared its findings with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) for further investigation.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: "It's extremely concerning that hand sanitisers readily available on online marketplaces eBay and Etsy make misleading claims about alcohol content and could leave consumers unwittingly exposed to the COVID-19 virus."

Which? approached the sellers of the Hansan and Klenzy products for comment and did not receive a response.

The seller for the VaidaMakeup hand sanitiser gel said it had removed the listing and contacted all customers to warn them of the lower alcohol content in the sanitiser and to offer a full refund.

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