FDA puts hand sanitizers on import alert, adds more to do-not-use list

The FDA has placed certain brands of hand sanitizer on an import alert as more products have been found to contain methanol, a chemical that can be toxic when absorbed into the skin or ingested. 

An import alert allows the FDA to detain products coming into the U.S. to stop them from being distributed. The agency said it placed the alert on certain brands of hand sanitizer to prevent more people from being exposed to methanol poisoning as a growing number of hand sanitizers have been found to contain the toxic chemical. 

The FDA said a death was reported in association with Blumen hand sanitizer, distributed by 4e Global, one of the companies included in the import alert. It also sent a warning letter to Eskbiochem SA de CV, a Mexico-based company, for distributing methanol-contaminated hand sanitizers with product labels incorrectly stating they were FDA-approved. 

The FDA said it is working with manufacturers to recall hand sanitizers and is encouraging retailers to remove all the ones included on its do-not-use list, which consisted of 87 types of hand sanitizer July 28. It is also asking retailers and distributors to immediately stop selling hand sanitizers on the list. 

The FDA is urging consumers not to use any hand sanitizer products from any of the manufacturers included on the list, even if the specific product isn't named on the list, because they are still at risk of methanol contamination. 

"Manufacturers' failure to immediately recall all potentially affected products is placing consumers in danger of methanol poisoning," the FDA said. 

The FDA has found methanol in hand sanitizer products on its do-not-use list at levels ranging from 1 percent to 80 percent. 

It advises people not to flush the hand sanitizers or pour them down the drain when disposing of them. 

Since the FDA's initial warning on June 23, 10 companies have announced recalls of their hand sanitizers. 

Read the agency's full news release here.

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