Review, rethink label claims in light of coronavirus.

Author:Lusky, Mark

One of the most important customer service functions a product manufacturer can perform is to provide accurate, clear and complete information about what the product can and can't do. However, manufacturers sometimes stretch claims and use hyperbole to make their products seem better than can be documented.

Coronavirus issues have brought this out front and center. When the virus started spreading in the US, CNN aired a report questioning claims: "Can Lysol and Clorox products kill the novel coronavirus? The answer is ... complicated--Lysol, Clorox and a host of other household disinfectants widely tout their ability to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. The claim is right there on the label. Included in that 99.9%? Human coronavirus. The US Environmental Protection Agency has some guidance: The disinfectants are thought to be effective against the novel coronavirus. But until tests confirm this, its ability to kill the novel coronavirus has not been scientifically proven."

In the name of customer service, the last thing a manufacturer wants is for people to use their product confidently, thinking it will protect against COVID-19 when it won't.

The EPA has since released a list of disinfectants that will kill the current strain. Some Lysol and Clorox products are on it. According to CNN, "The US Environmental Protection Agency is arming consumers with a list of disinfectants that people can use to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. Here are some of the registered disinfectants on the EPA's list: Clorox Multi Surface Cleaner + Bleach, Clorox DisinfectingWipes, Clorox Commercial Solutions, Clorox Disinfecting Spray, Lysol brand Heavy-Duty Cleaner Disinfectant Concentrate, Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist, Lysol brand Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner."

Okay, so Lysol and Clorox label claims are justified, and consumers are well-served using these products in connection with the current virus. But, this prompts obvious questions for the product manufacturing community at-large: Have your claims been thoroughly checked and verified lately? Are there health-promoting claims that may stretch the truth? And what are potential consequences of misleading consumers--either intentionally or unintentionally?

This becomes especially clear when viewing label claims through the magnified lens of the COVID-19 situation. Products with exaggerated label claims can sometimes just be dismissed as marketing hype. But documenting the efficacy of...

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