FDA warns on faulty hand sanitizers consumers should not use


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers about faulty hand sanitizers, which it found to have insufficient concentrations of alcohol, from entering the USA.

FDA test results show certain hand sanitizers alarmingly have low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, which are active ingredients in hand sanitizer products.

Figure: FDA has warned consumers about faulty hand sanitizers, which is found to have insufficient concentrations of alcohol.

The agency urges consumers not to use these sub potent products and has expanded its list to include sub potent hand sanitizers, in addition to hand sanitizers that are or may be contaminated with methanol.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that consumers use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% ethanol if soap and water are not accessible.

The F.D.A. also labeled several more products that had insufficient amounts of benzalkonium chloride, a chemical with antimicrobial properties.

FDA also warned consumers and health care providers that the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested.

Methanol is a hazardous ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects. FDA’s investigation of methanol in certain hand sanitizers is ongoing. The agency will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms – nausea, vomiting, headaches, permanent blindness and seizures, among other harmful effects – should seek out immediate treatment for a potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of hand sanitizers have climbed vertically as consumers tried to perceive health officials’ recommendations to regularly and carefully wash or sanitize their hands to keep from contracting the virus.