The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on Thursday about alcohol-based hand sanitizers, that they are being flavored and packaged in containers that may look like a food or drinks package. If the consumers especially children are confused because of hand sanitizers in food packaging and ingest it, they may face a serious injury or even death. The agency has found some hand sanitizers that are being packaged in vodka bottles, water bottles, beer cans, children’s food pouches, and juice bottles.
In one case of the hand sanitizers in food packaging, it was reported to the FDA that a consumer bought a bottle thinking that it contains drinking water but it was containing hand sanitizer. The agency was also reported of another case in which hand sanitizer was packaged in a pouch marketed with cartoons and resembled a snack. If a child is attracted by a bright colored bottle or a pleasant smell and drinks even a small amount of alcohol-based hand sanitizer he may die or face severe illness.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported earlier this month that four people have died and some suffered seizures or impaired vision because they swallowed the hand sanitizers. Hand sanitizers are very useful for cleaning people’s hands during this pandemic but it is not safe to swallow it as CDC warned that alcohol bases hand sanitizers should never be ingested.
There is an increasing number of adverse events due to the ingestion of hand sanitizers including effects on the nervous system, cardiac arrests, hospitalizations, and deaths which are being reported to health departments and poison control centers. FDA has also recommended some guidelines on the safe use of hand sanitizer.
FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn is concerned about hand sanitizers in food packaging, which appear as consumable products such as beverages or baby food. He said that these products could confuse consumers into accidentally ingesting them and its dangerous to add scents with food flavors to these hand sanitizers which would smell pleasant to children and they may eat and get alcohol poisoning.
Hahn added that manufacturers should be vigilant about marketing and packaging hand sanitizers in food packaging or drink packaging so that the consumers don’t use it inadvertently. He also warned that the FDA is monitoring these products and will take appropriate action when needed to protect American people’s health.
The FDA has encouraged consumers, patients, and professionals to report quality problems or adverse events experienced when using hand sanitizers to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program. The FDA assures that it is proactively working with the manufacturers to call their potentially dangerous hand sanitizers back from the shops. Moreover, the agency is also encouraging retailers to stop selling such products online or from stores in-person.
The FDA has made a list of hand sanitizers that they don’t want the consumers to use and have also given a description on how to use the list which has been posted to their website. The FDA has also put those products on the list of ‘import alert’ so that they may not enter the United States.