A watched pot never boils - '5-minute' baby bottle steriliser is misleading

21 August 2018 - 15:26 By Dave Chambers
The Chicco SterilNatural baby bottle steriliser.
The Chicco SterilNatural baby bottle steriliser.
Image: Chicco

A “five-minute” baby bottle steriliser actually takes 25 minutes to do its work‚ says a disgruntled buyer.

Now the advertising watchdog has told Chicco to withdraw its claim about the speed of the R999 SterilNatural device.

“The packaging creates a misleading impression about the likely time a consumer will spend sterilising baby feeding bottles‚” said the Advertising Standards Authority.

Nikola Pijovic complained to the authority that the steriliser packaging said it was “easy to use… sterilising in just 5 minutes [warming time excluded] and switches off automatically at the end of the cycle”.

But he said the whole sterilisation process took 25 minutes. Even if “warming time” was understood to mean the time taken to bring the water in the device to boiling point‚ it still took 15 minutes to finish sterilising‚ he said.

Chicco said the five-minute claim referred to the period sterilisation was taking place. “The warming time is not limited to when the water starts boiling but up to when the container is saturated with water vapour at the equilibrium temperature at which the sanitisation occurs [around 95°C]‚” it said in its response to the ASA.

“The warming time can vary depending on various condition of use‚ including but not limited to the temperature and quantity of the water‚ the quantity and typology of products in the steriliser‚ the ambient relative humidity [and] the ambient temperature.”

The ASA was not convinced by Chicco’s explanation. “It is clear that the amount of time the product uses to sterilise is a selling point‚” it said.

“It appears from the complaint that the amount of time it takes to get a bottle sterilised is significantly longer than five minutes – and this is supported by [Chicco’s] response.”