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FDA MedWatch Report

for Benefect Botanical Disinfectant

FDA MedWatch Report:  Summary
Product Benefect Botanical Disinfectant
DIN 02242474
Active Ingredient Thymol 0.23%
Product Used By Carpet Cleaning Company: Touch of Green Clean
Owner and sole employee: Gary O'Donnell, Saskatoon Canada
Kind of Problem (1)  Product used incorrectly which led to a problem
(2)  Had a bad side effect (symptom: headache)
What Happened Headache for 7 days. Resolved when Benefect residue removed from carpet.
What to Fix Carpet cleaning company ignored the warning on the Benefect DIN Label, even after I pointed out and discussed the warning. Cause of the difficulty:
  • The DIN warning is implied, not directly stated
  • The DIN warning competes with, and loses out to, the botanical and natural claims which dominate the label
Date November 29, 2013 Date Filed with the FDA

Food and Drug Administration

FDA MEDWATCH Consumer Voluntary Reporting
(FORM FDA 3500B)

Product: Benefect Botanical Disinfectant
Active Ingredient: Thymol 0.23%
Distributor: Sensible Life Products
Product Routinely Used By

Touch of Green Clean, Saskatoon, Canada (residential carpet cleaning service). Owner and sole employee: Gary O'Donnell. Hired by my landlord (I had no choice of carpet cleaner).

Product Used Incorrectly

Carpet cleaning company ignored the warning on the Benefect DIN Label, even after I pointed out and discussed the warning. Two problems: (1) The DIN warning is implied, not directly stated. (2) The DIN warning competes with, and loses out to, the botanical and natural claims which dominate the label.

Adverse Event

Headache caused by Benefect residue in carpet.


Forty square feet of my living-room carpet became wet. Source of water was leaky kitchen pipes in residential suite above mine. The water was clean (no odor, no sewage, no grime or grit).

My landlord hired Gary O'Donnell (Touch of Green Clean) to pull up the excess water with a wet-vacuum. Gary then sprayed this carpet area with Benefect Botanical Disinfectant as a leave-in treatment. Evidence that Benefect did not evaporate or sublimate from the carpet: The treated area remained dark in color, clearly marked with linear edges (took photos).

Later that day, I began to suffer a prolonged headache if I stayed in my living-room for more than an hour. My headache eased only when I stayed in a different room with the door shut, and arranged constant cross-ventilation through the living-room where the treated carpet was. This went on for 7 days.

Meanwhile I found the Benefect DIN Label on the web. The usage instruction says: Suitable for hard, non-porous surfaces. That means Benefect is NOT suitable for carpets, which are porous. By phone, I raised the question with Gary, but he became aggressive and resistant at any mention that Benefect had limitations on its use.

Finally Gary agreed to a return appointment. At my insistence he used soap to remove the oily Benefect residue (thyme oil) from the 40 square feet of carpet. Within a day, my headache did vanish permanently. It was clearly related to Benefect. Proof is in the timeline, and in the lack of any other possible trigger.

Benefect Label Needs Revision

We must acknowledge human nature. We commonly encounter people who harbor a romantic notion that botanical and all-natural translate to mean 100% safe. Such people want to use green products without any restraint. This is wishful thinking but it can become quite hardened in the mind.

Products such as Benefect imprint two competing terms on the label, namely the all-natural claim and the warning for use. These terms compete with each other, but beyond that, in the mind of a green person the terms appear to contradict each other. The green person will disdain warnings unless they are direct, plain, strongly worded.

Case in Point

The Benefect DIN Label begins by hyping the green theme thus: Made from botanically pure plant extracts with pleasant aromatherapeutic vapours. No synthetic fragrances, dyes, ammonia or chlorine.

Underneath that, the DIN Label prints a warning that relies on an implied negative. The warning says: SUITABLE FOR disinfecting hard, non-porous surfaces in residential, commercial or medical applications, including health care and food preparation.

That is a weak warning; the format is not effective. The manufacturer leaves people to deduce on their own where the product should NOT be used. Rather than being implied, the warning should be direct, for example it could add: NOT SUITABLE for porous surfaces (such as carpets).

Benefect DIN Label

Benefect DIN number: 02242474 (Health Canada)
Read the Benefect DIN Label


Benefect Botanical Disinfectant

Georgena S. Sil
Saskatoon, Canada
Physicist & Technical Writer
Alumnus: University of British Columbia
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Benefect Produce Line

Benefect Botanical Disinfectant
Active ingredient: Thymol 0.23%


Consumer Reporting Program

The FDA relies on consumers to voluntarily report product quality problems, adverse reactions, product use errors, or therapeutic failure linked to the use of an FDA-regulated drug, biologic, medical device, dietary supplement or cosmetic.

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Benefect Administrative Office

Benefect Co.

Benefect founder and president: Sam DeAth

The active ingredient in Benefect is Thymol, a volatile oil found in Oil of Thyme. The thyme plants are grown in Spain.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada both classify Thymol as a pesticide. Thymol is also a harsh respiratory and dermal irritant. Despite advertising claims, this product is not suitable for aromatherapy.

Administrative Offices
555 Bay Street North
Hamilton, Ontario
Canada  L8L 1H1
Distribution Centre
250 First Gulf Blvd.
Brampton, Ontario
Canada  L6W 4T5

Benefect Manufacturer
Administrative Offices
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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