2020 has been a year that will go down in the books. We have experienced shortages of toilet paper, cleaning products and hand sanitizer. With these various shortages, manufacturers have been working especially hard to restock the shelves of our supermarkets and big box stores. This is nice and easy for the companies that were already manufacturing the products, but especially with hand sanitizer, many companies that traditionally made other products turned their focus to creating these out of stock products. Many alcohol distilleries have made the decision to produce hand sanitizer, among other companies. Because of non-industry companies wanting to help, the FDA created a Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19) (FDA). With these guidelines, and the World Health Organization’s easily available “Guide to Local Production: WHO-recommended Handrub Formulations” it is easier than ever for these companies to create approved hand sanitizer.
Unfortunately, some companies are taking advantage of the shortage and are using unapproved ingredients in their formulations that have major health consequences for the consumers. According to a press release from the FDA, they “have seen an increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but have tested positive for methanol contamination.” Methanol is a wood alcohol that is often used to create fuel and antifreeze. It can be toxic when absorbed through the skin as well as life-threatening when ingested. The FDA warns that methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death. The people most at risk are children who accidentally ingest products containing methanol, and adults who drink hand sanitizer as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute. The CDC has reported several adverse health events associated with these methanol-based hand sanitizers, including at least four deaths from ingestion. A concern with this is how can the consumer tell that their product has methanol? The FDA has a list of over 100 brands that have been tested and were positive for methanol. Check out that list here. If you feel any of the effects listed above, make sure to report it to the FDA with as much information as possible here.
If your company is interested in producing hand sanitizer, check out our hand sanitizer tab! We can help you get the correct license for hand sanitizer production!