FDA takes delayed action on toxic hand sanitizers

After 20 deaths and numerous cases of blindness and other injuries and illnesses last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in February for all alcohol-based hand sanitizers imported from Mexico.

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Henry Hintermeister
Creative Associate

Author: Henry Hintermeister

Creative Associate

 

Started on staff: 2019
B.A., magna cum laude, Tufts University

Henry grew up in southern Maine, where he developed his love for hiking, kayaking and track & field. He currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with his girlfriend and enjoys getting together with family, reading fiction, listening to NPR and playing soccer.

After 20 deaths and numerous cases of blindness and other injuries and illnesses last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in February for all alcohol-based hand sanitizers imported from Mexico.

The FDA's alert and subsequent scrutiny of sanitizer shipments came after the agency flagged 230 varieties of hand sanitizer, nearly all from Mexico, as unsafe. The FDA's decision to review the imports more closely came more than seven months after it first discovered hand sanitizer products imported from Mexico contained toxic methanol.

The influx of sanitizers contaminated with toxic substances came as demand spurred by the coronavirus overwhelmed trusted suppliers in March and the FDA relaxed its registration rules, allowing companies not previously registered to sell hand sanitizer in the United States provided they promised to follow safety guidelines.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund issued policy recommendations to help safeguard consumers already concerned about their health from potentially toxic hand sanitizers.

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Photo: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in February for all alcohol-based hand sanitizers imported from Mexico. Credit: Anna Shvets via Pexels

Henry Hintermeister
Creative Associate

Author: Henry Hintermeister

Creative Associate

 

Started on staff: 2019
B.A., magna cum laude, Tufts University

Henry grew up in southern Maine, where he developed his love for hiking, kayaking and track & field. He currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with his girlfriend and enjoys getting together with family, reading fiction, listening to NPR and playing soccer.