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UK hand sanitiser market ‘has become a wild west’

Published 14th April, 2021 by Neil Nixon

UK hand sanitiser market ‘has become a wild west’

The safety of children and vulnerable adults is under threat from a wave of unsafe, mis-sold and under-regulated alcohol-based hand sanitisers, without any government acknowledgment of the alternatives, according to a UK manufacturer.

Chester-based Byotrol plc, which makes Invirtu alcohol-free hand sanitiser, is calling for an urgent review into controls on the market to prevent unscrupulous suppliers from distributing ineffective, misleading and potentially dangerous products to the public. The call comes as 10 cross-party MPs have written to Health Secretary, Matt Hancock asking for an urgent review of the guidelines for hand sanitisers.

Byotrol is urging the government to recognise the need for higher standards and more rigorous enforcement, which could include providing further resources to agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive and Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency (MHRA) that are currently overwhelmed by other demands.

Despite the dangers of ingestion by children, some hand sanitisers in the UK are being marketed with the scents and images of sweets. University of Oxford research found that the number of poisoning incidents involving alcohol-based products in the first nine months of 2020 was more than double the number in 2019 (155 to 398).

Dr Trevor Francis, chief technology officer at Byotrol, said: “Hand sanitising is now an essential part of everyday life but we’re exposing the most at risk in our society to various dangers thanks to a wild west regulatory regime with loose standards and even weaker enforcement. The government must take action to see that regulations are fit for purpose and that the agencies responsible for protecting the public have the powers and resources to act. We would very much welcome the opportunity to contribute constructively to that from a scientific and industry perspective.”

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