Experts say counterfeit hand sanitizer recall is a lesson for retailers

With COVID, fake products are on the rise.
11/9/2020
Shutterstock/FotoHelin

Dollarama Inc. is removing a counterfeit and recalled hand sanitizer from its shelves, which experts say should serve as a reminder of how important it is for retailers and consumers to do their due diligence when shopping.

“Since coronavirus started, it’s just been a huge Wild West of personal protective equipment (PPE),” said Yue Gao, a pharmacist and the quality assurance lead at Ontario-based PPE supplier MedyKits.

“Some people don’t realize that this is happening.”

Gao’s remarks came after Health Canada revealed it had uncovered a counterfeit Daily Shield hand sanitizer for sale at one of Dollarama’s Thunder Bay, Ont. with the same lot number as a legitimate Bio Life Sciences Corp. product.

Montreal-based Dollarama said the 250-mL product labelled NPN 80098979, Lot 6942 Expiry May 2023 was available in roughly half the chain’s stores and each location sold about 17 bottles, which were removed as soon as Health Canada began investigating.

Health Canada believes the fraudulent version of the product may not be effective at killing bacteria and viruses, and poses serious health risks because it contains methanol. The ingredient is not authorized for use in hand sanitizers and can cause severe adverse reactions or death when ingested.

It’s far from the only recall the country has faced in recent months as COVID-19 has made hand sanitizers a hot commodity and spurred dozens of distillers and now companies to start pumping out the product. Health Canada said it had recalled more than 100 hand sanitizers recently.

Fraser Johnson, the Leenders Supply Chain Management Association chair at Western University in Ontario, said recalls highlight that retailers should be focused on two things: suppliers and quality.

Retailers, he said, could ask hand sanitizer makers for references or search for websites and proof of what other companies have trusted the brand.

Health Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it recommended companies refer to a list of authorized hand sanitizers, complete with natural product and drug identification labels, it has posted on its website

The organization has also released a second list of disinfectants and hand sanitizers accepted under interim measure the government put in place allowing for certain products to be sold in Canada if they were approved in other jurisdictions (and were determined not to compromise safety.)

Health Canada said it was continuing to investigate the Daily Shield counterfeits with the co-operation of Dollarama, which told The Canadian Press in an email that all of its hand sanitizer purchases go through a full compliance review before being sold to ensure the quality and safety of the product.

“The product in question was purchased through a long-standing Canadian vendor. Dollarama was not the importer or license holder of this product,” said spokesperson Lyla Radmanovich.

“Customers are invited to discard the product or return it to any store for a full refund.”

 

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