Just when you thought your hand sanitizer was the one thing you could count on the FDA just released some very unsettling news about this product. A product that is supposed to protect you in a pandemic.
The FDA says a number of alcohol-based hand sanitizers are being packaged in food and beverage containers so people are mistakenly ingesting them. For example, one person thought they were drinking a bottle of water and it was hand sanitizer. Another person found out the beer container they bought was full of hand sanitizer. Some were found in children’s food pouches.
“I am increasingly concerned about hand sanitizer being packaged to appear to be consumable products, such as baby food or beverages. These products could confuse consumers into accidentally ingesting a potentially deadly product. It’s dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. said in a press release. “Manufacturers should be vigilant about packaging and marketing their hand sanitizers in food or drink packages in an effort to mitigate any potential inadvertent use by consumers. The FDA continues to monitor these products and we’ll take appropriate actions as needed to protect the health of Americans.”
When ingested, hand sanitizer can be toxic leading to a number of very serious health problems and possibly death. It is especially deadly for children even if they only ingest a small amount.
This isn’t the first issue the FDA has had with hand sanitizers since the pandemic started. The CDC released a report earlier this summer that found that at least four people in the U.S. died after drinking methanol-tainted hand sanitizer. According to the FDA web site, drinking methanol can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
There has been an uptake in hand sanitizer since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are not a replacement for washing your hands with soap and water but can be effective in killing germs. “When used properly, hand sanitizers work by killing some viruses and bacteria with alcohol (ethyl alcohol aka ethanol or isopropyl alcohol),” explains Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, and board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills. “They do not remove physical dirt, grime, mucous, and so, are not meant to physically wash your hands.” However, using them to clean your hands is much different than drinking them from a beer can.
If you have any questions or concerns about your hand sanitizers consult The FDAs hand sanitizer “do not use” list.