South Africa

Firm claiming it can kill Covid-19 not that fogging good, says ad watchdog

Firm claiming it can kill Covid-19 not that fogging good, says ad watchdog

A hygiene company that says it is “fogging good” at killing the coronavirus in buildings has been ordered to withdraw the claim.

The ad watchdog said Coronafog's boasts that it can kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, and that its product and process are effective against the coronavirus, “are currently unsubstantiated”.

Consumer Jozua Loots complained to the Advertising Regulatory Board about the company's radio and internet advertising, saying it “creates an impression that this product is guaranteed to kill the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Loots said: “There is no proof that this method of disinfectant fogging is effective against this particular strain of the virus, which means the advertising is disingenuous and misleading.”

Coronafog, a brand of Johannesburg company Meridian Hygiene, said it had looked for guidance from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about disinfectants it could use in its fogging machines to combat SARS-CoV-2.

“The EPA expects any disinfectant to kill SARS-CoV-2 if such a disinfectant is effective against other 'hard-to-kill' viruses [or] ... other human coronaviruses,” it said.

In its response to Loots, Coronafog submitted the results of tests in 2011 on San-A-Med, the disinfectant it uses in its fogging machines.

In its ruling, the watchdog noted that since Loots made his complaint, Coronafog had downgraded its claim that fogging could “remove” the coronavirus to saying it could “reduce the coronavirus risk”.

“This does not alter the overall communication in any significant manner,” it said, particularly as the ad still claimed the fogging had been “proven effective against coronavirus”.

It said reasonable people would assume that the ad referred to Covid-19, but Coronafog had relied on 2011 testing against previous coronaviruses to support its claims.

“It has not, however, submitted unequivocal verification from an independent and credible expert to support its arguments and assumptions,” it said.

“It is also unclear why studies conducted in 2011, which involved soaking the relevant pathogens by spraying them repeatedly until 'thoroughly wet', would support [Coronafog's] 'thermal fogging' technique, which disperses the disinfectant as a 'dry fog'.”

This and other discrepancies the watchdog highlighted in its ruling meant Coronafog's claims were unsubstantiated and must be withdrawn from all its advertising.