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FDA recalls 212 ’unsafe’ hand sanitizer products

Contaminated products have led to blindness, hospitalizations and death, FDA reports

Hand sanitizer generic photo
Hand sanitizer generic photo (Pixabay)

Hand sanitizer was nearly impossible to find at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and now it’s everywhere but is it safe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use 212 hand sanitizer products as a result of having been deemed potentially unsafe or ineffective due to methanol contamination, or because they contain “concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, which are active ingredients in hand sanitizer products.”

Methanol, which is used in fuel, solvents and antifreeze, is poisonous to humans and substantial exposure could “result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death," the FDA warns.

Ten new products have been added to the recall list in November. You can view the full list below or a detailed list, which includes information about the manufacturer and reasoning behind a certain product recall, on the FDA website.

What kind of hand sanitizer should you use?

Consumers should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent isopropyl or ethyl alcohol, according to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The names of the recalled products are listed in the document below:

What should you do if you experience a problem with a hand sanitizer?

Anyone experiencing adverse effects or quality problems due to hand sanitizer is asked to report the issue to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

Previously, officials with the FDA have said they were aware of reports of harmful effects associated with the listed hand sanitizer products including adults and children who ingested products contaminated with methanol that led to blindness, hospitalizations and death.

It is still recommended that you wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds and especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

The investigation by the FDA into the use of methanol in hand sanitizers is ongoing.

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