Regulator warns consumers about dangerous hand sanitisers from Mexico

*The US Food and Drug Administration wants to help consumers in identifying mislabelled and potentially dangerous sanitiser products

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

In a move to protect consumers amid the raging second wave of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in several economies, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), again, has announced it discovered a new batch of sanitisers from Mexico that have “dangerous levels” of toxic ingredients.

For consumer protection, therefore, the regulatory agency has placed all alcohol-based hand sanitisers from Mexico on a countrywide import alert until the agency is able to review safety of the products.

The FDA says the hand sanitisers that it has identified as toxic list ethanol as an ingredient.

However, officials say the products actually include methanol ─ a.k.a wood alcohol.

While ethanol is used in medical wipes and most commonly in antibacterial hand sanitizer gels, methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested.

Warning of serious consequences of using such dangerous hand sanitisers, the FDA states exposure to methanol can cause a large list of side effects and symptoms, including dermatitis, nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, and even death.

While anyone using these products on their hands is at risk, the regulator says it’s more concerned about young children who accidentally ingest these products.

The agency said one of the items ─ Soho Fresh Hand Sanitiser ─ may be labeled as a hand sanitiser, but it’s actually a drug.

Officials called out the manufacturer for misbranding and failing to get FDA approval.

Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, said: “Consumer use of hand sanitisers has increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when soap and water are not accessible, and the availability of poor-quality products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients will not be tolerated.

“Today’s actions are necessary to protect the safe supply of alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

“We will continue to work with our stakeholders to ensure the availability of safe products and to communicate vital information with the health and safety of U.S. consumers in mind.”

According to FDA, almost every hand sanitiser coming from Mexico poses a risk, adding, consumers cannot be too careful regarding hand sanitisers imported from Mexico.

Its analyses of alcohol-based hand sanitisers imported from Mexico between April and December 2020 found that 84 percent of the samples were not in compliance with the regulations.

The regulatory agency has put together a list of specific manufacturers, distributors, and National Drug Codes related to hand sanitisers to help spread the word about potentially hazardous products.

The FDA advises consumers: “If a product on the list … does not identify the manufacturer on the label, consumers can contact the distributor whose name appears on the label to find out who manufactured the product.

“The agency added that if the distributor refuses to clarify this information when contacted, consumers should not use that product at all.

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