Tag: SABS

What’s in a hand sanitiser?

By Burt Rodrigues, CEO of Biodx 

“Right now each time you walk in or out of a shop, office or building, you’re supposed to use whatever hand sanitiser they’re offering – unless you bring your own. And to be safe at home you’ve probably been buying various products off the supermarket or pharmacy shelves. Do these products make you feel safe? The very word sanitiser alone on the label sadly isn’t enough to guarantee your protection, particularly from Covid-19.

Protection

“So how can you make sure you are in fact fully protected? In theory the answer should be easy. The label should clearly show an SABS approval stamp. After all they call themselves a ‘leading global providers of standards and regulatory approval, certification and accreditation’. But how hard can it be to get when we’ve just cut and pasted it from the internet.

“A product showing their mark and registration is telling the consumer you’re guaranteed the same quality of product and performance every time you use it. So, without this guarantee or falsely using this label means one thing – danger.

“I you received this approval rating 15 years ago it was a very different ballgame. In the past when you saw an SABS stamp on a product containing chemicals made to kill living things, you had trust in it. “Such products pose a danger to the consumer which is why government developed a framework over many years to protect society from getting hurt. This rating should mean something, particularly given the process that products are supposed to go through to qualify – the onus shouldn’t be on the consumer to get the product tested.

Degradation of compliance

“Sadly the last 20 years has seen the degradation of such compliance platforms and people have become accustomed to buying non-regulated compounds, which are dangerous to human health. Today no one is aware what these regulations even are and with Covid-19 and the urgency around manufacturing and sourcing such products this equals a very dangerous situation.

“Then you have the NRCS (National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications) which is there to make sure your product has a registration number; proving by using the product you aren’t endangering society. The problem here is not everyone is a chemist, doctor or scientist and people don’t realise they should check out the registration on the product with the company’s website to verify its authenticity. After all if you can’t rely on the NRCS brand being real you can’t rely on yourself as a consumer. It’s comparable to taking a Ferrari hood ornament and sticking it on a Tata…

“Another thing that’s changed over the years is the enforcement behind false claims such as these. In the past nobody would dare make a false claim on a product because you could be jailed but complacency has crept in over the years and these bodies don’t have the capacity or knowledge any longer to enforce such punishment.

Only a handful of companies/ brands comply

“If people suddenly only started buying genuine SABS/NRCS labelled products there would be only a handful of companies who could supply them. What has happened overseas with the sudden surge in the need for disinfectant products was to allow products on to the shelves which have gone through the registration process but have just not been awarded final documentation. These are now being rapidly fast tracked and approved – but only if they comply with the strict regulations. Such registrations normally take years and cost hundreds of thousands of Rands to complete but somehow quite a few not so compliant products have also made it on to shelves.

“So what does this mean for schools which have just reopened? Perhaps this is one of the contributors to so many quickly closing down again. They go through all the motions of disinfecting but are they using genuine and safe products?

“It comes down to where does the responsibility lie. We’re dealing with dangerous products here – possibly that haven’t been tested for human consumption. If the instructions on a product also aren’t clear and you put too much on your skin it won’t just kill the viruses but damage your skin too. And then there’s the content. Some raw material has sugar in it and if this is left behind after use it can trigger a microbial explosion, turning 1 000 bugs into 100 000 bugs, creating rather than preventing infection. Without proper SABS and NRCS rating you are in danger!

Our recommendation

Always check the packaging label as follows:

  • Does it display the SABS and NRCS marks?
  • Does it contain SABS or NRCS registration numbers?
  • If you are in doubt go to the SABS OR NRCS websites to check it out.

By Roy Cokayne for IOL

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has been placed under administration.

This is after Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies last month removed the entire SABS board because he had lost faith in its ability to effectively manage the bureau.

In May this year, Davies confirmed that the bureau was bleeding customers and potential revenue and in March this year he instructed its management to urgently oversee a detailed process to develop a turnaround strategy.

Davies on Friday announced the appointment of three SABS co-administrators, SABS group operating officer Jodi Scholtz, the deputy director-general of the Industrial Development Division at the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) Garth Strachan, and the chief director of technical infrastructure institutions at the dti, Tshenge Demana.

He said the co-administrators were charged with producing a diagnostic report and turnaround action plan.

They hade been appointed for the period from July 2 this year until January 30 next year and in terms of the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, they had been given all powers and duties necessary or incidental for the proper functioning of the SABS. Sidwell Medupe, a spokesperson for the dti, on Friday confirmed that SABS chief executive Boni Mehlomakulu, who as chief executive was a member of the bureau’s board, had been dismissed as a board member, along with the other board members. Medupe also confirmed that Mehlomakulu now reported to and took instructions from the co-administrators.

The SABS last year reported a R44.3 million loss for its 2016/17 financial year.

The SABS has been in the spotlight since it emerged that it irregularly certified substandard coal by Guptalinked mines to facilitate the suspension imposed by Eskom on another supplier to pave the way for the Gupta-owned Tegeta contract to go ahead.

However, the problems at the SABS go much deeper than that and it has received widespread criticism in the past few years from many industries about the level of service these industries were receiving from the bureau.

Business Report reported in January last year that South Africa’s coatings industry claimed the SABS’s paint testing laboratories appeared to be non-operational.

The Master Chemical Blenders Association, which collectively represents more than 50 companies, last year told Business Report that their members were unable to get their compliance certificates from the SABS, despite interacting directly with Mehlomakulu and that the SABS did not have testing capability and that many were possibly no longer compliant.

The SA National Accreditation System (Sanas), which is responsible for accrediting industry bodies and laboratories that conduct testing and is recognised through legislation as the only national body responsible for carrying out accreditation, suspended the certification programmes of the SABS, but subsequently lifted this suspension in March 2016, claiming the suspension was of an administrative nature.

Complaints Many other industries have complained to Business Report about the level of service provided by the SABS. Davies last month confirmed that he had received many complaints from both big and small business, including complaints from black industrial players, that the government was working hard to expand, about the lack of service from the SABS.

Davies confirmed in response to a parliamentary question in May that the SABS had lost 1 052 customers since its 2015/16 financial year, including 401 customers since April this year, resulting in a loss of revenue to the bureau of almost R50m in this period.

In addition, the SABS had to refund 41 customers a total of R1.03m in this period.

Davies said the peak in customer losses was in the SABS’s 2016/17 financial year, due to customers cancelling their permits and certificates with the SABS.

The reasons for the cancellations included the suspension of SABS certification programmes by Sanas; customers moving to competitors; and expired certificates and permits.

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