Only a third of alcohol wipes able to kill bacteria: Foundation

05/10/2021 09:59 PM
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CNA photo May 10, 2021
CNA photo May 10, 2021

Taipei, May 10 (CNA) The Consumers' Foundation on Monday called on the government to set standards for alcohol wipes sold in Taiwan, as only five of the 17 wipes it tested in a recent survey met the recommended alcohol concentration needed to wipe out bacteria.

Products such as alcohol wipes have seen a surge in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, but consumers have expressed their doubts to the foundation that the wipes actually kill bacteria, foundation Secretary-General Hsu Tse-yu (徐則鈺) said at a press briefing.

To investigate the issue, the foundation randomly purchased 17 wipes that contain ethanol at supermarkets, pharmacies, and online sites in October 2020, and tested their alcohol levels, Hsu said.

Only five of the products met the 70 to 78 percent alcohol concentration needed to kill 99 percent of bacteria, Hsu said.

Three of the products had alcohol concentration levels of 60 to 69 percent, while the remaining nine products had less than 50 percent concentrations, according to Hsu.

The manufacturers cannot be fined, however, because the government has not set a standard for alcohol concentration in wipes. There is no definition of the term "anti-bacterial," either, so products can be marketed as such even if they cannot kill bacteria effectively, Hsu said.

Besides alcohol levels, the foundation also tested the products for preservatives using the standard set for cosmetics, as there are no related regulations for alcohol wipes.

Five alcohol wipes had phenoxyethanol levels higher than 1 percent, the standard set for cosmetic products, while one contained over 0.1 percent of benzethonium chloride, according to Hsu.

The foundation called on the government to set relevant requirements for alcohol wipes and a definition for the term "antibacterial," so that both manufacturers and consumers will have clear rules to follow, Hsu said.

Visit the Consumers' Foundation website for more information (in Chinese).

(By Yang Su-min and Chiang Yi-ching)

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