Caustic soda supplier provides undertakings to Federal Court

5 December 1996
Consumers will be better warned about the dangers of handling caustic soda following Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Federal Court action.

"In a first for this type of case, the ACCC instituted proceedings against Glendale Chemical Products Pty Ltd, supplier of Glendale Caustic Soda, after complaints from a consumer who claimed he suffered injuries and property damage as a result of using the product in his home," ACCC Chairman Professor Allan Fels, said today. "The ACCC is seeking compensation on behalf of the consumer.

"Following negotiations between the ACCC and Glendale, the company provided undertakings to the court on Tuesday on an interlocutory basis.

"The ACCC alleged that the product is not such as the public is entitled to expect and therefore considered the product to be defective under the Act. Caustic soda is a commonly available household product which is potentially dangerous. This is a case where it was alleged the instructions on the products label were inadequate in that they failed to inform consumers of the safe method of using the product.

"The existing labelling encouraged uses which appear to be particularly hazardous. Consumers have a right to safe goods and to be provided with the appropriate information about products for use in their homes."

The ACCC considers that the failure to include a statement on the label that the product may be mixed only with cold water contravenes sections 52 and 53(c) of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

The ACCC has also sought interlocutory orders from Justice Einfeld. Under its undertaking to the court on Tuesday, Glendale will:

not supply the product unless each container either bears a revised label on the side of all containers of the product and a label on the lid or bears a further revised label on the side of each container; supply to all persons to whom it has supplied the product in the past 12 months a sufficient quantity of lid labels to enable stocks of the product that are presently on shelves to have lid labels affixed to the lid of each container of those stocks; publish a public safety notice in nominated newspapers advising that caustic soda can be dangerous and cause serious injuries when not used correctly, providing information on how caustic soda should be used and providing a contact line for queries and further information; and send a letter to all persons to whom it has supplied the product during the past 12 months notifying them of the substance of the undertakings.
Release number: 
MR 165/96
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