Coronavirus: Millions of sub-standard face masks seized at Heathrow since outbreak

One of the millions of sub-standard face masks confiscated at Heathrow.

Millions of sub-standard face masks and thousands of fake hand sanitisers have been seized at Heathrow since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trading standards officials said there had been "a surge in firms attempting to import sub-standard face masks" into the UK.

At Britain's busiest airport, a total of 2.25 million confiscated masks failed to comply with legal safety standards while 4.25 million had to undergo label amendments to rectify false details before they were released.

A further 1.5 million masks were examined, but no issues were found.

Stephen Knight, the operations director at London Trading Standards (LTS), said: "There has been a surge in firms attempting to import sub-standard face masks, many with false labelling or faked safety certificates.

"Trading standards teams are being pragmatic in seeking to let these important goods through, once misleading labelling is removed and the necessary safety compliance can be shown.

"However, we will continue to protect consumers from unsafe goods."

A total of 8,000 hand sanitisers carrying the Andrex and Comfort brand names were seized after suspicions surrounding identical packaging and labelling.

Teams from LTS also confiscated another 4,500 hand sanitisers carrying false details.

The work by trading standards officers comes amid ongoing concern over the sale of unsafe UK-made hand sanitisers across the country following huge demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Ealing, 3,390 sanitisers were seized due to the absence of legally required information - while nearly 455,000 face masks with fake safety certification were confiscated.

Another 60,000 face masks were also found in Ealing to lack full safety compliance information, including from where the goods had been imported.