You may have noticed that some antibacterial products carry EN Standards. Look at the packaging and you’ll see codes such as ‘EN1500’ or ‘EN1276’.
But what do these numbers actually mean in practice? And to what extent should they be a deciding purchasing factor?
What is an EN Standard?
EN Standards are certifications awarded to products to demonstrate that they meet an agreed European base standard of efficacy when evaluated under specific test conditions
In the context of cleaning, antibacterial products that carry EN Standards are legally and scientifically proven to be able to demonstrate claims made by the company. These might include terms such as ‘kills up to 99.999% of bacteria and viruses’.
If a product makes such a claim, but does not have any proof of having EN standard (or equivalent) certification, then there is a strong possibility that the products have not been tested and accredited to the EN standard and does not hold any scientific proof of efficacy.
Essentially, EN Standards are designed to give consumers assurance that the product meets the quality and efficacy standards agreed by independent regulatory bodies.
Why choose products with EN Standards?
EN Standards are certified and awarded independently by regulatory bodies. It’s a process governed by strict criteria, so it takes time and can be costly to achieve certification.
Since the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak, a slew of low quality, copycat hand sanitisers have flooded the market. EN Standards sift out the opportunistic businesses looking to turn a quick profit, that are unwilling to submit their products to independent testing.
For example, a hand sanitiser or wipe cannot identify itself as antibacterial or able to hygienically sanitise if it does not carry the appropriate EN standards. This makes the consumer’s choice far more straightforward. Faced by the choice of two products making similar claims – one with an EN Standard and the other without – it’s a simple choice.
If you’re concerned about a product that claims it’s antibacterial but provides no discernible proof, it’s worth contacting Trading Standards or the UK Govt’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Using the product expecting it to kill bacteria and viruses, could be putting yourself and others at unnecessary risk.
Which EN Standards should you look out for?
Tests the efficacy of a hygienic hand rub product (such as hand sanitiser) by measuring the difference in the amount of bacteria on the hands before and after exposure to the hand rub. Reduction in bacteria must not be less than a standard reference hygienic hand rub using propan-2-ol.
Tests the efficacy of a hygienic hand rub solution by measuring the contact time required in order for the sanitising product to eliminate fungal or yeast cultures. The hand rub must be able to demonstrate a minimum of 99.99% reduction to attain EN 1650.
Measures the antimicrobial efficacy of disinfectants and antiseptic products by determining how strong an antibacterial product is. Similar to EN1500, EN1276’s efficacy is calculated by the net reduction in bacteria and the product must demonstrate a minimum 99.999 % reduction
EN14476:2013 + A1:2015
Tests for efficacy against viruses, such as Vaccinia, Influenza and Rubella. Product must kill viruses on hands and surfaces with a minimum 99.99 % reduction in order to pass EN14476:2013 +A1:2015.
Specifically designed for anti-bacterial wipes, EN 16615 is tested against bacteria and yeast. To pass EN 16615, the wipes solution must eliminate 99.999% of bacteria or 99.99% of yeast.
Will Brexit Affect the Validity of EN Standards in the UK?
In short, no.
According to BSI (British Standards Institution), the United Kingdom plans to remain a member of CEN (Comité Européen de Normalisation/European Committee for Standardisation) beyond Brexit.
This means that, from both a consumer and a legislative point-of-view, very little – if anything – will change.
EN Standards will remain a gold standard by which consumers make their hand sanitising purchases.
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