The Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) is honored to represent the cleaning and disinfectant product companies that are in every home and institution across the country. These brands have built longstanding reputations with their customers by being reliable, safe and effective. Unfortunately, the trust in our industry’s products is being eroded by the presence of bad actors producing and selling products that have none of these qualities. These sellers are out of compliance with Federal and State laws, and their only recourse is to sell clandestinely on e-commerce platforms. Generally, these are counterfeit products and illegal sales, and HCPA is working hard to limit the presence of these unsafe products in U.S. homes and workplaces.
HCPA members take their responsibility to their consumers very seriously, understanding that while their products need to work, they also need be safe. While HCPA members conduct extensive testing and quality control, sellers of these counterfeit and illegal product are not so detail-oriented; they are looking to make a quick buck by selling their tonics and snake oils, and make unsubstantiated promises that their products are safe for consumers and the environment. This has been a growing problem in the U.S. since the dawn of e-commerce, where little work is done to verify products or their manufacturer, and cheap online advertising can confuse consumers. It is a technological “perfect storm” that is even more threatening in the age of COVID-19.
As U.S. consumers continue to self-quarantine and fear increases over the presence of this pathogen on personal and communal surfaces, people are looking for additional ways to protect themselves. Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been committed to identifying products that can be used against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and making this information available through List N. The surface disinfectants on List N are registered with the EPA and meet certain criteria, including demonstrating efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 or a harder-to-kill virus. However, reports from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have detailed the increase in counterfeit and illegal products, especially cleaning products, being sold with the promise of killing COVID-19. These illegal claims pose a great threat to consumers, not just because the products do not work, but because they often contain dangerous ingredients and lack clear instructions for use. As HCPA members work around-the-clock to produce large quantities of EPA-approved disinfectants that are safe and effective, these shameless actors on the Internet are undermining the very certainty and safety HCPA member companies promote.
To address this emerging threat, HCPA is one of the industry groups in a coalition lobbying Congress to support legislation that would require e-commerce platforms to gather the same information on products and vendors that brick-and-mortar retailers must collect.
Legislation has been introduced to fight these counterfeit products, including the Stopping All Nefarious Toys in America Act (SANTA ACT); the Integrity, Notification & Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act (INFORM Consumers Act); and the Stopping Harmful Offers on Platforms by Screening Against Fakes in E-commerce Act (SHOP SAFE Act). These bills propose needed steps to prevent an overwhelming number of counterfeit and illegal products sold on the Internet from ending up in U.S. homes.
HCPA’s ultimate concern is always with the safety of the consumer. Our members produce needed products under brands that people trust so that, in times like these, consumers can have confidence in the products they use to keep themselves safe. HCPA will continue its fight, in Congress and beyond, against the repugnant entities that would look to undermine that faith. SPRAY