Schools are being forced to remove more than 50 different hand sanitisers, soaps, wipes, and detergents because the products aren't registered with the Department of Agriculture.
Following a major review by the Departments of Agriculture and Education into all school biocidal products, students and staff have been told to stop using almost one-third of sanitisation products currently in use. This follows the urgent recall of Virapro hand sanitiser last week due to public health fears.
While there is no evidence that these products are unsafe to use, only products listed on the Department of Agriculture's biocidal product register may be placed on the market.
The 52 listed products will not be approved for use in schools unless their registration status is confirmed.
The urgent recall notice of Virapro caused much upset, anger, and frustration throughout the school community when it was made late last Thursday night ahead of mid-term break.
News of the latest major recall was also greeted with a similar reaction. It now leaves affected schools with just three days to remove, clean out, organise, and restock supplies before thousands of students return to school after the mid-term break.
"It is very concerning that many of the products on the approved list of resources have now been deemed inappropriate," said John Boyle, general secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO).
"School leaders and boards of management needed this break to recharge after an incredibly stressful nine weeks."
Just watch @rtenews report at 9pm about this item. To say the reporting of it is SO out of touch with what this means for schools is beyond frightening. A principal cannot just order a different supply tomorrow (Friday), receive it (over the weekend?) and go on Monday ....— Séamus O Connor (@seamusocon) October 29, 2020
Affected products include 14 types of wipes, 17 types of hand sanitiser, 5 hand sanitiser refills, 8 hand soaps, 7 detergents. The review did not conclude that these products were unsafe, though it failed to “satisfactorily” confirm their registration status, according to the Department of Education.
Suppliers of biocidal products are legally required to ensure their products are safe and effective, the Department of Agriculture said.
There is "no reason" to believe failing to register a product gives rise to concerns over safety or efficacy, it said, adding that the department is taking action on a "precautionary basis".
It stopped short of telling the public to stop using such products. Schools are advised to cease using the products on the removed list, and to store them securely until collected by the supplier.
Affected schools will receive funding to replace their stocks, according to the Department of Education, which is working with suppliers to ensure stock gets to school in time for reopening on Monday.
"Suppliers are ready to prioritise school orders they receive."