The pandemic facing our world continues to have far-reaching consequences that are beyond our control; with scientists, politicians and the general public trying their hardest to get to grips with the situation. There are, however, some things that are within our control that must be handled better for the sake of our health and that of our children who we have a duty to protect. Keeping our hands clean is one of the easiest and most effective ways to deal with the spread of Covid-19, yet in Ireland a huge product recall debacle has caused mayhem in schools and healthcare facilities at a key time.
A million units of hand sanitiser recalled from schools & healthcare facilities
Over a million units of a hand sanitiser were sent out to schools and healthcare facilities in Ireland in October of this year which was found to contain methanol rather than ethanol. The Department of Agriculture advised the public to stop using it (and recalled the product) and the company’s other products due to inadequate levels of ethanol rendering the product ineffective. In fact, frequent use of this sanitiser with methanol was shown to potentially cause nausea, dermatitis, eye irritation, upper respiratory tract irritation and headaches.
School closures amidst the confusion
A number of schools were forced to close as a result of the recall as the product had been sent to education centres across the country for use by students and staff. Following on from this event the Irish government then wrote to schools recalling hand sanitisers, wipes, detergents and hand soaps saying they "cannot be considered fully safe". This latest list of products that raised concerns contained more than 50 different items supplied to schools by nine different companies.
While there is no evidence that these products are unsafe to use, only products listed on the Department of Agriculture's biocidal product register may be placed on the market. The urgent recall notice of the products in question caused much upset, anger, and frustration throughout the school community when it was made late on a Thursday night ahead of mid-term break as it left affected schools with just three days to remove, clean out, organise, and restock supplies before thousands of students returned to school after the mid-term break.
A very concerning time for all
"It is very concerning that many of the products on the approved list of resources have now been deemed inappropriate," said John Boyle, general secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO).
The Health Service Executive confirmed that it received more than three million units of products from ViraPro, the Irish company at the centre of the major recall of sanitising products in schools. It said it had already distributed more than a million units to health service locations around the country, while the other two million units have now been placed in quarantine.
The HSE mobilised a product recall team to establish how much product needed to be removed and replaced from settings including hospitals, GPs, dentists, community healthcare facilities, nursing homes, testing centres and the National Ambulance Service.
Members of the public advised to stop using this sanitiser
Members of the public were advised to stop using this hand sanitiser with immediate effect and all schools were asked to check whether they had used this supplier/had stocks of this product.
Impacted schools were advised to make local arrangements to purchase stocks of hand sanitiser and to maximise the use of handwashing to support necessary hand hygiene. Whilst additional funding was provided to schools to enable them to purchase the necessary supplies from an alternative supplier.
Finding a trusted and reliable brand to fill the gap
Ireland, unlike the UK, have an authorisation process whereby hand sanitisers have to have a PCS number under Article 69 of the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR). All notified or authorised biocidal products in Ireland must contain an approval number on the product label. Notified products can be identified by the PCS number of the form “PCS 9XXXX”
EcoHydra are a trusted and reliable brand who have held their PCS number for over 5 years were able to step in and fill the gap for those who were left with a deficit of hand sanitising equipment in the product recall debacle. Their products are so effective that they are also used in a variety of demanding environments where protection against infection is paramount, including NHS hospitals where the EcoHydra Hand Sanitiser is used as an alternative to harsh alcohol-based gels.
Moving forward it is always necessary to check the safety of the products that we are using for our own and others benefit to save on situations like this arising again when the products are needed more than ever. Choosing brands that have their PCS number, such as EcoHydra, are a safe bet for those who are unsure which products to choose as there is currently no kitemark at all in the UK for safe to use hand sanitisers.Buy a reliable hand sanitiser from EcoHydra >>