Hand sanitiser sold by major retailer fails crucial test

Kristine Tarbert
·Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read

More than ever people are relying on hand sanitiser to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

So when CHOICE received a community tip off about a popular brand of hand sanitiser the consumer advocacy group commissioned a lab test to make sure the product was up to scratch.

Close up view of woman person using small portable antibacterial hand sanitizer on hands.
Hand sanitiser needs to have 60-80 per cent alcohol to be effective. Photo: Getty

The sample of ‘AIR Clean Instant Hand Sanitizer’ from retailer Mosaic Brands has failed the test and is likely to be withdrawn from sale.

“This is following a CHOICE investigation and an independent lab test that found a sample of the product had an alcohol content of only 23 per cent - well below the amount of alcohol required to be effective,” Erin Turner, Director of Campaigns at CHOICE, said in a statement.

CHOICE commissioned the test after receiving multiple community tip offs concerned with the quality of the Mosaic-sold products.

“In the COVID-19 context, ineffective sanitiser is a major public health risk. In order to be effective, a hand sanitiser must have enough alcohol. It’s very worrying that CHOICE has found a hand sanitiser sample with only 23% alcohol, when it should have between 60 and 80%, depending on the formula.”

choice hand sanitiser test
A sample of the product had an alcohol content of only 23 per cent. Photo: CHOICE

As a result of the spot-check on this Mosaic sample, CHOICE is now conducting further testing of sanitiser available across Australia.

“We have also referred Mosaic to the regulators to determine if this is a one-off issue with a small batch or something more concerning. We welcome actions from Mosaic to withdraw the products from sale and conduct further testing themselves - this is the responsible course of action given the risks involved.”

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.

CHOICE has raised a complaint with the ACCC and notified the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of the issue.

Mosaic Brands released a statement in response to CHOICE’s claims, stating the company’s own tests showed the product complied with the required amount of alcohol.

“We dispute Choice’s assertions as we have testing documentation from the supplier that shows the alcohol content of the hand sanitiser is not in line with Choice’s claim and is within the range to eliminate 99.8% of germs,” the statement received by Yahoo Lifestyle read.

The company also shared a letter sent to CHOICE earlier in the week asking the group to hold off until further testing on the product was done.

“It is most unfortunate that Choice has ignored the attached letter we sent them on Tuesday 14 July 2020 and has published this assertion before the results of further tests could be received,” the statement continued.

“We believe that Choice’s insistence on publishing the article today is purely to generate sensationalism and is irresponsible as it risks alarming buyers of the product unnecessarily if these further tests confirm that the alcohol level is as stated in the documentation we have received from the supplier.”

Mosaic Brands had already removed the product from sale until further testing was done.

How to spot a dodgy hand sanitiser

The group does stress that hand sanitiser shouldn’t be your first choice - if you have access to soap and water it will be the most effective way to eliminate germs, provided you follow guidelines for effective handwashing.

Hand sanitiser must typically contain between 60 and 80% alcohol (depending on type) to be effective.

If you place sanitiser in your hands and it has a sticky texture and doesn’t evaporate as you rub – you may have a dodgy sanitiser. A sticky texture indicates that the formula has too much gel substance and not enough alcohol.

Sign up to our daily newsletter here to get all the latest news and hacks. Or get in touch at lifestyle.tips@verizonmedia.com.