18 January 2021
Andrew Bridgen MP calls for urgent review of hand sanitiser guidelines as Covid-19 cases continue to surge

A letter Andrew Bridgen MP has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Rt Hon Matt Hancock, calling for an urgent review of guidelines on hand sanitisers, has been backed by a number of cross party Parliamentarians.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of new providers have flooded the market as consumers and businesses seek to provide protection against SARS-CoV-2 (the scientific name for this Coronavirus) for employees and customers.

The letter calls for the existing guidelines to be reviewed. The current guidelines focus exclusively on alcohol-based products, provide no standardised way for customers to tell if a product is effective or not and create confusion for those with skin conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis (17% of the population)[1], who are unable to use alcohol on their skin due to the debilitating irritation it causes.

Due to there being no public standard for customers to tell if a hand sanitiser product is effective, many unscrupulous operators are able to offer sub-standard and even dangerous products to consumers which exploit the blurred lines between cosmetic, biocide and medical products regulation.

In the letter, the cross-party group call for the development of a UK conformity mark that would subject all hand sanitisers to mandatory independent lab tests before they distributed to consumers. This would ensure only safe products are sold in the market, and those with skin conditions are able to source suitable effective alternatives.

Signatories of the letter include:

  • Andrew Bridgen MP
  • Sir Paul Beresford MP
  • Christian Wakeford MP
  • Rosie Cooper MP
  • Baroness Masham of Ilton
  • Martyn Day MP
  • Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
  • Craig Whittaker MP
  • Claudia Webbe MP
  • Tim Farron MP

Commenting on the letter, Rt Hon Andrew Bridgen MP, said: “With hand sanitiser fast becoming a part of daily life it’s essential that proper regulations and guidelines are in place to protect the consumer. As hand hygiene is one of the first lines of defence against the virus, I look forward to receiving Matt Hancock’s response on this issue and pressing any subsequent actions further.”

Commenting on the letter, Clifton Melvin, Chairman, EcoHydra (based at Castle Donington) said: "The current guidelines – which focus exclusively on alcohol – do not reflect the current hand sanitiser marketplace which has been flooded by new contenders and provide no standardised way for customers to tell if a product is effective or not. 

“The biggest problem we have learnt in recent months is that products containing alcohol can market their product however they like and get away with it, whereas products like ours, which don't contain alcohol and have multiple independent lab certificates to prove efficacy, are threatened with legal action by the regulator for suggesting EcoHydra kills Covid. A review of current hand sanitiser guidelines is essential to give customers confidence in the product they are buying while weeding out the snakeoil from the legitimate.

“We would expect high standards for any other product that helps protect us, I don't understand why this wouldn't apply to hand sanitisers as well?"

[1] EcoHydra, YouGov research, conducted between 16 and 17 of June 2020. 2214 adults from the UK participated in the survey, which was weighted nationally.