UNITED STATES – In addition to the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) growing list of recalled hand sanitizers, the organization is now warning parents of alcohol-based sanitizers packaged in containers that may lead to accidental ingestion.
“Beware of alcohol-based hand sanitizers packaged in containers that may appear as food or drinks. These products may put you and your family at risk of serious injury, or death, if ingested,” the FDA tweeted yesterday. “Some hand sanitizers are being packaged in beer cans, children’s food pouches, water bottles, juice bottles, and vodka bottles.”
In a press release published on their website, the FDA added some sanitizers even contain food flavors, such as chocolate or raspberry.
“Drinking only a small amount of hand sanitizer is potentially lethal to a young child, who may be attracted by a pleasant smell or brightly colored bottle,” the FDA said.
The FDA also said a consumer reported buying a bottle they thought to be drinking water, but turned out to be sanitizer. Another reported a sanitizer product marketed through children’s cartoons, stored in a pouch resembling a snack. A whisky producer from the Midwest used bear-shaped bottles to contain their sanitizer.
“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,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said. “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.”
The FDA also continues to maintain a growing list of recalled sanitizers due to the presence of dangerous chemicals. The list currently contains 165 recalled sanitizers, most of which contain potential methanol or propanol 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,” the FDA said. “The agency is aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations and death.”
Methanol is often used to create fuel and antifreeze. Since the agency began reporting on the contaminations in June, at least one death has been reported in association with tainted hand sanitizer. Most reputable sanitizer companies use isopropyl or ethyl alcohol.
SaniGo, a veteran-owned small business producing USA made sanitizer in Indianapolis, IN., formulated their industrial antiseptic hand rub in accordance with FDA regulations.
“It was very important to us to not cut corners when it comes to customer safety,” SaniGo Business Development Manager Jordan Mendenhall said. “We genuinely care about your family, that’s why our sanitizer is made is 75 percent isopropyl alcohol.”
Mendenhall added hand sanitizer is for external use only, and should never be ingested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website says from 2011-2015, U.S. Poison Control Centers received close to 85,000 calls concerning hand sanitizer exposure in children.