Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Ceisteanna (455)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

455. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education if a sample sanitiser from a company (details supplied) was assessed and evaluated by a team with the necessary technical competencies and cross-sectoral knowledge; the outcome of the process; and if issues were flagged with the product. [34931/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Education Sector Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procurement agreement July 2020 provided for the supply of the following PPE products, from 14 suppliers, for use in schools and other education settings: Wipes; Hand Soaps; Facemasks; Gloves; Hand Sanitiser; Protective Clothing; and Safety Glasses.

As part of the selection process suppliers were required to confirm that their products were compliant with the regulations; to provide documentation and samples of products; and to give examples of contracts in the last two years which included supply to the Irish public sector. The RFI specifically requested that interested suppliers confirm that all products comply with Regulation (EU) No. 528/2012, commonly known as the Biocidal Products Regulation, and with the European Union (Biocidal Products) Regulations 2013 (S.I. 427/2013); and to confirm that all products comply with Regulation (EU) 2016/425 of 9 March 2016 on personal protective equipment.

On 22 October 2020 the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine notified my Department that it had removed ViraPro hand sanitiser from the product register. On the same day my Department removed the supplier of Virapro and its entire product offering from the procurement agreement and advised all schools to stop using the ViraPro sanitiser. These products have been on general sale and not just available through the education sector framework.

On Friday 23 the Department of Agriculture advised not to use any Virapro branded product and this was communicated to schools. My Department immediately commenced a review of biocidal products included in the Education Sector PPE procurement agreement. This involved reviewing 172 items from 14 suppliers. The outcome of this review was a decision to take 43 biocidal and 9 other products off the approved list for schools because it has not been possible to satisfactorily confirm their registration status as part of this review. These products will not be included in my Department’s approved list for schools until their registration status has been confirmed. The Department has no evidence that these products are unsafe.

The review was undertaken in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine Testing, which is responsible for the testing, approval and certification of all biocidal products for sale in the State and to which I would refer the Deputy for further information.

Immediately following the product review my Department on Thursday 29 October, 2020 wrote to all schools to advise them of changes to the approved list of products on the Education Sector PPE procurement agreement, and the steps they can take to procure new stock if they need to. Suppliers on the agreement committed to swift processing of orders and delivery to support schools, and work is ongoing with suppliers to ensure that schools are restocked to meet their needs.

My Department has added a new supplier to the PPE Agreement, this supplier had engaged in the original process and they have now completed the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine biocidal registration process. In total 23 new products have been added which includes product from the new supplier and a number of products from existing suppliers on the agreement.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has commenced reference sample testing for products other than ViraPro. To-date they have analysed reference samples relating to 39 products on the Education Sectors current framework of hand sanitisers. Laboratory analysis confirms that these products are in accordance with their respective conditions of registration. In addition, one unregistered product has been analysed. No issues in relation to safety or efficacy have been identified. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is continuing to increase its testing of product on the market to provide reassurance in relation to compliance with approved product specifications.