Continuing the theme of using the four pillars from our Disinfection Dysfunction education campaign, this week I want you to ask yourself “Does your disinfectant have misleading claims?” If it does, you may be using a product that has Label Deficit Disorder!
We are inundated on a daily basis with emails, advertisements in journals and magazines, meetings with sales reps, vendor tables at education conferences, etc. it’s a wonder that anyone can make heads or tails out of the fodder. As Dr. Syed Sattar expressed in his blog “Stop the Smoke and Mirrors,” there are a number of areas that need improvement when it comes to the product development and registration of a disinfectant. But also from a decision maker perspective, to ensure we are asking and looking for relevant criteria when making a product choice. Aside from the contact times, product claims, and educational support, we should also refuse to receive or allow companies to pull the wool over our eyes when it comes to advertising or marketing claims.
Two of my personal pet peeves include the numbers game and chasing the non-existent efficacy claim. This unfortunately occurs more frequently than one would think (or hope). Contrary to some companies’ belief, advertising that a product kills X bugs while the closest competition only kills Y bugs is not relevant and frankly in some cases can be downright dangerous. We have to remember that it is more than just what the product kills that needs to be taken into account when choosing a disinfectant.
When it comes to emerging diseases or obscure pathogens that have hit the news or are being promoted by a company as being relevant, we need to pause before running around looking for a product. Case in point is looking for a disinfectant with an HPV claim. It does not exist. There is currently no Health Canada, EPA or FDA approved lab that can conduct testing in a manner required to obtain a label claim. My other favorite story is a facility searching for the elusive disinfectant for use on soft surfaces as requested by the Joint Commissions during their last audit. I shudder to think how many other facilities were sent scurrying looking for a product that does not exist. The EPA only approves sanitizing claims against vegetative bacteria on soft surfaces. There is no approved disinfection claim for soft surfaces.
As Drs Rutala and Weber’s “Selection of an Ideal Disinfectant” article so eloquently stated "using this accumulated knowledge of microbiological susceptibility should discourage unnecessary testing, listing irrelevant organisms on labels and avoid "bug-of-the-month" testing".
I hope the next time you read the label or marketing material of the product your facility is currently using or a new product you’re investigating you’ll stop and ask “Does my disinfectant have misleading label claims?”