Since March, demand for hydro-alcoholic products has increased as part of barrier actions to fight COVID-19. In November, a survey conducted by the Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF) revealed that out of 180 samples of hydro-alcoholic solutions and gels sold on the Internet, in small shops or supermarkets, 73% are non-compliant or dangerous. In question, insufficient alcohol content (at least 60% alcohol to be effective) and labeling that minimizes the dangers of these products (mainly their flammability). The organization alerts this time to the fact that gels under two different statuses are put on the market.
Indeed, several categories of products exist: hydro-alcoholic gels, biocidal products likely to be used in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and other pathogens, and hand gels, cosmetic products used for cleaning or modifying the odor of the hands. The latter offer “no guarantee on their ability to contribute to the fight against the virus”, specifies the Repression of fraud. How can we tell them apart?
Hydro-alcoholic gels: the importance of the composition
A hydro-alcoholic gel under biocide status is destined to disinfect hands users (or other surfaces) and must eliminate microorganisms (bacteria, viruses) harmful to humans.
These products are subject to regulationon chemicals, and this requires the inclusion of mandatory information. “Including one (or more) pictogram (s) of danger, hazard statements, the name of the alcohol contained and its concentration”, underlines the organization, which adds that “the alcohol content must be sufficient (a volume 60% minimum) to ensure the disinfectant properties of the product or have been tested according to listed standards, for example, according to standard NF EN 14476 to certify its virucidal nature. ” Otherwise, three types of alcohol are to be preferred : ethyl (ethanol), propyl (propan-1-ol or n-propanol), isopropyl (propan-2-ol or isopropanol).
Banned claims for hand gels
A hand gel, under cosmetic status, must indicate its function, for example perfuming or cleansing if it is demonstrated. Consumers must be very vigilant about the terms that may appear on the packaging of these products because, since last November, the European Commission and the Member States have adopted a document relating to the claims that the latter is not allowed to make. . “These statements cannot be present on the product and the claims are grouped into three categories: direct verbal claims, references and allusions and graphic elements, ”says the Repression of Fraud.
A hand gel therefore can not wear “antibacterial”, “antimicrobial” claims, “Antiviral”, “disinfectant”, “antiseptic”. The prohibited references and allusions are in particular “infection”, “pandemic”, “disease”, “COVID-19”, “coronavirus”, “SARS-CoV-2” while the prohibited graphic elements turn out to be any sign relating to a hospital, a pharmacy, an ambulance … According to the DGCCRF, “the fact of maintaining the confusion between a cosmetic product and a biocidal product is likely to be characterized as a deceptive trade practice. In particular, the alcohol content in a cosmetic hand gel should not be indicated. ”
The organization, therefore, concludes on the fact that the only products to be used in the fight against COVID-19 because they allow hand disinfection are the “products of biocidal status, which must be used when it is not possible to wash the hands with soap and water.” It should be noted that to help consumers make their choice in this area, the UFC-Que Choisir published a guide listing the criteria for choosing a quality disinfectant. The organization recommends in the first place favor pharmacy purchases and supermarkets and verify that the label includes the name of the solution and the manufacturer, composition, date of manufacture, and batch number.
To find out more about the coronavirus, the editorial staff invites you to discover its more complete and regularly updated articles:
- an article on Covid-19 disease and the evolution of the epidemic
- an article on the different screening tests
- an article on vaccines under development.