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Is it bug spray or hand sanitizer?
VANCOUVER -- COVID-19 has seen a huge demand for hand sanitizer and companies across the country have been stepping up production to meet demand. However, some consumers are freaking out about one product that’s being sold in dollar stores across the country.
Katie Jakes of Richmond was convinced the cans of hand sanitizer spray her mother and friends had bought contained insect repellent. There were some tell-tale signs that something was up - a label was covering up a can that looked very similar to a can of bug spray.
“We scrubbed it off last night. It took forever to get it off,” she said. It revealed a can clearly stating it was insect repellent.
“It smells very lemony, so it reminds us almost of like a citronella bug spray, bug repellent,” Jakes said.
The manufacturer, Zytec, has been hearing from consumers about it.
“People wanting to verify that the product is, truly is, what it says it is on the label,” said Steve Colwell, Zytec's technical director.
He assured CTV News that it is indeed hand sanitizer spray. But in order to meet COVID-19 demand, the company repurposed unused preprinted insect repellent cans, filled them with hand sanitizer, and wrapped a new label around them.
“This was our intention - to get our product out as fast as we could,” said Colwell.
“We did post it on our website. We did notify Health Canada and it’s available on Health Canada’s website. We posted on social media,” added Raffi Nalbandian of Zytec.
The company says it’s been a Health Canada approved and licensed producer of hand sanitizer and drug products since 2004.
And the company says it sent notices out to retailers to help them answer any questions from consumers about the product.
Dollarama, which sells the products, said it has had few inquiries.
However, Jakes says she’s been hearing about it from family and friends who are concerned and she thinks clearer disclosure would help.
“Put it on the label. It’s so easy,” she said.
But according to the company, it’s not that easy.
“There’s not a lot of leeway you can do with adding in extra things into an approved, Health Canada approved label,” said Colwell.
Perhaps a notice at the shelf where the cans are displayed would help, because Jakes says not everyone has online access to check social media and websites for disclosures.
“Just make it clear because, otherwise, you’re going to be in a situation like I was last night where I’m panicked that I’ve been spraying bug spray on my hands all weekend.”