Urgent safety warning after WA child consumes hand sanitiser

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ConsumerProduct safetyBusiness / company
  • Six year old child recovers from ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Consuming sanitiser can cause serious health issues
  • Sanitiser bottles should be kept out of reach of children

An urgent safety warning has been issued by Consumer Protection after a six year old child who had consumed hand sanitiser was admitted to a Perth hospital.

The child ingested between 30 to 60 millilitres of the alcohol-based hand sanitiser and was taken to hospital with acute intoxication which can result in serious health complications and injury. The child has made a full recovery.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said parents and carers of children should be extra vigilant as children often mistake the bottles of sanitiser for food or drink.

“With many households and schools now using hand sanitiser as part of their daily routines, it’s important to remember these products should be treated with extra caution around children,” Ms Chopping said.

“Most alcohol-based sanitisers contain upwards of 60 per cent alcohol content, meaning just a couple of mouthfuls can be enough to poison a child.

“Poison centres across Australia have seen an increase in adverse reports involving these products. Given these products are packaged in a range of container types, including plastic bottles with pop-top lids, there is greater potential for them to be mistaken for food or drink.

“For this reason, Consumer Protection has joined the ACCC in working with suppliers to make sure hand sanitiser is not sold in packaging that resembles food or drink bottles. The action includes educating sellers about new requirements for packaging and labelling and product safety officers will be ensuring that they comply.

“Consumers who use their own bottles at in-store hand sanitiser refill stations should clearly mark their bottles to avoid confusion with any other household or food items.

“Hand sanitiser should always be kept out of reach of children and should only be used by children under adult supervision. As a highly flammable product, it should also be kept away from any type of open flame.”

Tips for safe use of hand sanitiser:

  • If you have children at home, look for hand sanitiser that has child-resistant packaging or other closures that make it difficult for children to access the product independently.
  • Keep hand sanitiser out of reach of children at all times. Children should only apply hand sanitiser under adult supervision.
  • Hand sanitiser is for external use only.
  • If ingested, you should seek medical attention immediately.
  • Keep hand sanitiser away from any type of open flame as its ingredients are highly flammable.
  • Stop using hand sanitiser if it causes skin irritation.

Hand sanitisers that contain alcohol as the primary active ingredient must display the following information on the product container:

  • The amount of alcohol contained in the product, shown as a percentage (%) by volume per volume (v/v). This may be shown in the list of ingredients or elsewhere on the container.
  • The following warnings either in words or pictograms: Keep out of reach of children; For external use only; If ingested, seek immediate medical attention; Flammable – keep away from fire and heat; Discontinue use if skin irritation occurs.

There is a transition period to assist with the changes to the new mandatory standard.  Up until 23 May 2021, suppliers have the option to comply with the requirements from either the Consumer Goods (Cosmetics) Information Standard 2020 or the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991. From 24 May 2021suppliers must only comply with the requirements in the Consumer Goods (Cosmetics) Information Standard 2020.

Further information is available from www.productsafety.gov.au. If ingestion is suspected, call the Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26 (24 hours a day) to seek urgent medical advice.


Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / alan.hynd@dmirs.wa.gov.au  

Consumer Protection
Media release
29 Apr 2021

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