In a public statement issued on Tuesday (20 August), the competition watchdog said that Queensland business Saipol Technologies had admitted it likely misled customers purchasing its water filter cartridges.
It relates to promotional material issued from “at least” 1 January 2017 to 3 July 2018, in which it said its C Grade cartridges had a pore size or micron rating that complied with a Queensland Health Directive issued in 2016 that required filtration of “0.2 micron pore size”.
The ACCC expressed concern that this was not the case, and determined that the relevant product had a non-compliant 1.0 micron pore size.
The size of the pores relates to the filter’s ability to filter out particles and impurities in water.
The white label replacement cartridges are imported by Saipol, according to the regulator, and then on-sold to businesses and other large-scale organisations, including hospitals and universities, under the Saipol brand.
“This is a reminder to all businesses that claims about the quality or grade of a product should be accurate,” said ACCC commissioner Sarah Court.
The ACCC said that despite the mislabelling of products, its own investigations “did not find any evidence of adverse health effects where the filters had been used”.
It also said that Saipol had fully co-operated during the investigation, and has since amended its product advertising.
Under the terms of a court-enforceable undertaking agreed to by the company, Saipol has committed to conduct a full review of its marketing, promotional and website material, and establish and maintain a compliance program to mitigate the risk of similar breaches of Australian Consumer Law in future for at least three years.
According to its website, the Southport-based company has been operating for more than 20 years, “designing and manufacturing a diverse range of proprietary filtration solutions for the health and education sectors and domestic use”.
Saipol stipulates that it sells only to trade customers.
'Oversight' following change in directive: Saipol
A spokesperson for Saipol told My Business that only a small portion of its range was involved, and that it was a simple oversight resulting from a “change in technical specification”.
“C Grade filters represent less than 0.5 per cent of Saipol’s filter cartridge range,” the spokesperson said.
“This error occurred as a consequence of a change in technical specification issued by QLD Health, the QLD Health Directive. The directive related to hot water urns and had no relation whatsoever to any medical or clinical equipment.”
According to the company, the specification at heart of the ACCC’s concerns “related to tea and coffee machines” manufactured by Zip Industries, that are used in employee kitchenettes.
“Saipol continued to use the original QLD Health specification for some time after the publication of the change in specification. At all times the consequences of the change in specification did not affect the performance of the filter cartridge,” the spokesperson said.
“At no time did Saipol intentionally act to mislead or deceive and the oversight was purely that – an oversight. The oversight had absolutely no material affect on the performance of the C Grade cartridge.”
They added: “It should be noted that no fine or other penalty was imposed by the ACCC. This reflects the oversight.”