The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants consumers to be aware of flavored hand sanitizers and those packaged in food or beverage containers are not to be consumed and to keep them out of reach of children because the products can be toxic to humans. The agency issued a news release about alcohol-based hand sanitizers after becoming aware that some were being packaged beer cans, children’s food pouches, water bottles, juice bottles, and vodka bottles, as well as some containing flavors like chocolate or raspberry.
“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,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “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.”
One example involves a report received by the FDA in which a consumer bought a bottle they thought contained drinking water but was instead filled with hand sanitizer. The agency has also received a report about hand sanitizer in a snack-like pouch with child-friendly cartoons. Consuming only a small amount can be lethal to a young child.
The FDA has received numerous adverse event reports involving ingestion including heart problems, central nervous system effects, hospitalizations, and death.
Hand sanitizers have become more a household product in recent months with the coronavirus pandemic overwhelming cities across the country and the world. In recent weeks, the FDA issued safety communications about hand sanitizers containing methanol, a toxic chemical. Some hand sanitizer brands are labeled as containing ethanol or ethyl alcohol, which are considered safe, but also tested positive for methanol.
The agency is continuing to monitor hand sanitizers sold in the United States and has provided a regularly updated list of hand sanitizers to avoid.