FDA Cites Increased Reports of Injury After Americans Use—and Sometimes Ingest—Unauthorized Hand Sanitizers

(WASHINGTON) — U.S. health officials are warning Americans again to avoid a growing list of imported hand sanitizers that may be contaminated with the toxic chemical methanol.

The Food and Drug Administration said Monday there have been increasing reports of injury due to people using— sometimes ingesting—the unauthorized sanitizers, which can lead to blindness, heart problems and death.

The active ingredient that kills germs in legitimate sanitizers is ethyl alcohol, which is consumable. But some Mexican companies have been replacing it with poisonous methanol, or wood alcohol, which is used in antifreeze.

The FDA first issued a consumer warning about the products last month.

Last week the agency issued a warning letter to Mexican manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV for marketing sanitizer containing more than 80% methanol and falsely claiming that it was “FDA approved.”

The FDA has posted a “do-not-use” list of more than 80 sanitizers on its website and blocked their importation. The agency said it is working with retailers to recall products remaining on U.S. store shelves. The illegitimate gels generally don’t list methanol as an ingredient on their packaging.

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Contributor: Associated Press