FDA Import Alert on Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers

Angie Szumlinski Featured, Health

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued an import alert for alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico. Largely due to the increase in the use of hand sanitizers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA is issuing this warning to protect the safe supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and prevent products with dangerous ingredients from entering the country.

In samples analyzed by the FDA from April through December 2020, 84% of alcohol-based hand sanitizers imported from Mexico were found to be not compliant with the FDA’s regulations. More than half contained toxic ingredients such as methanol, and in many cases were not listed as an ingredient on the product label. According to the agency, “methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient in hand sanitizer or other drugs.” Adverse events reported to poison control centers and state departments of health due to methanol-contaminated hand sanitizers include:

  • Blindness
  • Cardiac effects
  • Effects on the central nervous system
  • Hospitalizations
  • Death

Along with maintaining a current list of hand sanitizers that consumers should not use, the agency’s alert is among many efforts to protect consumers from these potentially dangerous sanitizers.