The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a warning to consumers about hand sanitizers that are flavored and packaged in food and drink containers, which increases the risk of people accidentally drinking them, particularly children.
According to the warning, the agency has found hand sanitizers with flavorings such as chocolate and raspberry, and in packaging including beer cans, water bottles, juice bottles, vodka bottles, and children’s snack pouches—some of which were marketed with cartoons aimed at children.
"It’s dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning.”
“I am increasingly concerned about hand sanitizer being packaged to appear to be consumable products, such as baby food or beverages,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement. “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.”
Hahn went on to say that manufacturers should be “vigilant” about appropriate hand sanitizer packaging and that the FDA will monitor products and “take appropriate actions as needed.”
The market for hand sanitizers has been booming amid the coronavirus pandemic. Public health experts recommend using alcohol-based sanitizers (with ethanol or isopropyl alcohol at concentrations of 60 percent or higher) when soap and water are not available as part of appropriate hand hygiene.
But the increased demand and supply shortages from trusted manufacturers have apparently made way for unscrupulous and negligent producers. The FDA began warning in June of finding hand sanitizers with the toxic alcohol methanol, which is often associated with improperly distilled liquor. Since then, the agency has continued to identify dozens of methanol-containing products and has received mounting reports of consumers being poisoned, going blind, and even dying from the dangerous products.
Earlier this month, the FDA noted finding an additional toxic contaminant, 1-propanol, in some hand sanitizing products.
The FDA’s ever-expanding list of hand sanitizing products that consumers should not use now includes 165 entries. You can see the full list HERE. Below is a sampling of some of the labels of dangerous products identified by the FDA.