Hand sanitiser in schools, HSE facilities recalled due to possible health concerns

Late last night, the Department of Agriculture issued a product recall for ViraPro hand sanitiser, which can lead to dermatitis and headaches, among others, with prolonged use
Hand sanitiser in schools, HSE facilities recalled due to possible health concerns

Schools should follow the advice of the Department of Agriculture to cease using it, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said. File picture: Pexels

Hand sanitiser that has been withdrawn from the market due to “possible public health concerns” is currently being recalled from the healthcare system.

This Friday, the HSE has confirmed it is also affected by the recall of Virapro hand sanitiser, which with prolonged use can cause dermatitis, irritation and headaches, among other things.

Late last night, the Department of Agriculture advised to cease using the product immediately, and it is to be removed from the market.

The hand sanitiser is currently in use in some schools, although the total number is not yet clear.

In a statement, the HSE said it was formally notified about the issue with the hand sanitiser by the department yesterday.

“The HSE has moved immediately to deal with this matter. 

Stocks held centrally have been placed in quarantine.

“A product recall throughout the Health Service has been issued today.

“A dedicated recall team has been established to co-ordinate the collection of product currently in the healthcare system.” 

The HSE entered into a purchase agreement with an Irish distributor, PFG Brand Attraction EU Ltd, for the supply of alcohol hand gel, hand disinfection gel, hand sanitiser, the statement added.

“All stocks procured were based on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) supplied by the distributor. 

“The MSDS complied with WHO Specification. 

“The Department of Agriculture was alerted by their EU counterparts that there may be an issue with the product Vira Pro Hand Disinfection Gel manufactured in Turkey and that batches destined for the HSE may be affected.” 

The HSE did not state how much of this product was purchased or how much is currently in use in the healthcare system.

Risks of school closure after product recall

ViraPro is one of 11 suppliers available to schools on the multi-supplier framework for PPE for education settings.

It is not known how many schools are currently using this hand sanitiser. All are being asked to check their stock and remove it immediately.

Impacted schools are being instructed to “maximise the use of handwashing” instead and attempt to make local arrangements to purchase hand sanitiser.

Affected schools can also close early or shut entirely for the day, if they feel it's necessary.

St Pat's Boys National School Drumcondra and Darndale National School in Dublin are two schools already closed as a result of the product recall. 

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture said tests it carried out show that some of the Virapro sanitiser does not comply with regulations.

“Some of the product contains methanol rather than ethanol,” it said.

Prolonged use of such sanitiser may cause dermatitis, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation, and headaches.

“This product may not remain on the market or be made available for use.” The company involved has been instructed by the Department to initiate an immediate recall of all products, the statement added.

“Members of the public are advised to stop using this sanitiser with immediate effect. A Department investigation into this matter is ongoing.” All schools are now asked to check whether they have used this supplier and have stocks of this product.

Schools should follow the advice of the Department of Agriculture to cease using it immediately, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said.

Impacted schools should make local arrangements to purchase stocks of hand sanitiser and can maximise the use of handwashing to support necessary hand hygiene, she added.

"If a school that is impacted judges it necessary to do so, they can choose to close for the day or close early on Friday, October 23.

"If a school is having difficulty sourcing replacement hand sanitiser, they should contact the Department on the Covid-19 helpline and email address supplied to schools.

"Additional funding will be provided to schools to enable them to purchase the necessary supplies from an alternative supplier."

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