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Britain worked itself up into a lather last week when it was announced that, under new EU legislation, the makers of Fairy Liquid would have to print a GHS harmful/irritant warning on all bottles starting from June 2017. News outlets like the Daily Mail were quick to paint this story as yet another example of Brussels bureaucrats terrorising the British way of life - here's the headline from www.dailymail.co.uk:

Procter and Gamble, the manufacturers of Fairy Liquid, have expressed their anger at this ruling, which they worry will discourage people from using their product and contradict the brand's long-established 'soft on skin' image.

However, it should be pointed out that washing-up liquid (including "beloved and quintessentially British brand" Fairy Liquid) is, in fact, hazardous if misused. As the Mail themselves point out, the required GHS label (a black exclamation mark inside a red border) will warn consumers that Fairy Liquid may cause "eye irritation, respiratory tract irritation, and have narcotic effects". All of which is true - even soft, kind Fairy Liquid should not be ingested, inhaled, or allowed to make contact with the eyes.

The potential hazards of washing-up liquid need to be clearly marked on the products to promote safe use, and this is all that the new EU legislation aims to achieve. Instead of criticising the move, news outlets would do better to educate their readers as to the exact meaning of GHS labels and the ways in which labelled products can and can't be safely used. It's time to stop criticising health and safety culture and start helping to keep people safe!

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