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An Australian distillery issued an urgent product recall after selling 9 'incorrectly labelled' bottles of hand sanitiser as gin

James Hennessy
  • The Apollo Bay Distillery and the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse issued an urgent product recall after both venues sold "incorrectly labelled" bottles of hand sanitiser as gin.
  • The bottles were sold Friday 5 June and Sunday 7 June, and the recall notice warns the purchasers not to ingest the product.
  • A number of distilleries pivoted to producing hand sanitiser in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, due to soaring demand.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia's homepage for more stories.

A distillery in Victoria has been forced to issue an urgent product recall after selling bottles of hand sanitiser as gin.

In a product recall statement posted across its websites and social media, the Apollo Bay Distillery (and its associated venue, the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse) announced that nine bottles of SS Casino Gin had been mistakenly sold despite containing a substance which was "not gin".

"The product is labelled as gin, however it is not gin," the statement reads. "The bottles were incorrectly labelled and had no seal."

According to the statement, the substance in the incorrectly sold and labelled bottles contains "1.45% glycerol and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide". Incidentally (or not), that is the precise formulation recommended by by the World Health Organisation for the production of sanitising handrub.

A spokesperson for The Apollo Bay Distillery confirmed to Business Insider Australia that the mislabelled bottles contained ingredients to make hand sanitiser.

"Consumers should not ingest this product," the official recall notice on the federal government's food standards website reads. "Consumption of the product may have side effects including nausea, headaches, dizziness, bloating, vomiting, thirst, and diarrhea."

The bottles can be identified by not having the proper shrink wrap seal, according to the recall.

In comments on the Facebook page for the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, the venue confirms nine incorrectly labelled bottles were sold between Friday 5 June and Sunday 7 June. As of Wednesday morning, six of the bottles had been recovered.

Those who purchased the mislabelled bottles are entitled to a "full refund or replacement".

During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of distilleries including Archie Rose, Bundaberg Rum and Manly Spirits Co. pivoted to making hand sanitiser to meet the sharply increased demand and make up for a decline in spirits consumption as venues across the country shut down.

“We’re in a unique position to manufacture this essential product – with the required federal licences, dangerous goods approvals, access to raw materials and expertise – and so we’re now making hand sanitiser our production focus,” said Archie Rose founder Will Edwards in March.

It seems that genius business pivot should be accompanied with an equally shrewd labelling strategy.