Understanding the Massive Recall of Hand Sanitizer


The FDA has now marked over 60 brands of hand sanitizer for recall. This move comes at a time when people are more concerned than ever about germs. Find out why they had to pull these products off the shelves!

Ethanol vs. Methanol

Earlier this year, a huge number of companies either switched to or started manufacturing hand sanitizer. With the demand off the charts, it made financial sense. Distilleries in particular are having success meeting the need for sanitizer, since they already have access to ethanol–the main ingredient.

As long as they don’t get the bottles mixed up (as this company did), it’s safe to use products containing ethanol or ethyl alcohol as the active ingredient.

However, some companies have resorted to using a different type of alcohol: methanol. And that’s not safe at all.

What’s even trickier is that some products are labeled as containing only ethanol, but they’ve been cut with or contaminated by methanol. Methanol, or methyl alcohol, is also called wood alcohol. It is highly poisonous and should not be consumed, ever. Its main use is in fuel or antifreeze. Not exactly the kind of stuff you want to be rubbing on your hands.

Risk of Permanent Blindness or Death

While no one should be chugging hand sanitizer for fun, methanol isn’t just dangerous when consumed. It can also “be toxic when absorbed through the skin,” according to the FDA. The agency warns that they received reports of blindness, hospitalization, and death as a result of children and adults consuming these sanitizers.

According to the press release from the FDA, “young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk.”

Symptoms of toxic exposure include nausea and vomiting, as well as headaches and blurred vision. In extreme cases, people may experience coma, seizures, and permanent nervous system damage.

“Unfortunately, there are some companies taking advantage of the increased usage of hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic and putting lives at risk by selling products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.

With such a huge number of products involved, we’re not able to list every single recalled sanitizer here. You can read the complete list at the FDA website.

Modesa Brand Sanitizer Highlighted on Social Media

Family Dollar sold the Modesa brand at multiple locations across the country. Many people have reported on social media that these products are sold out at their local stores. That means consumers may have contaminated sanitizer at home right now.

“We are aware of the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report regarding certain hand sanitizer product. The third party manufacturer and supplier of this product has confirmed that none of our product contains methanol or was otherwise contaminated.

“The third party manufacturer and supplier has now issued a formal recall of certain potentially contaminated product and our hand sanitizer was not included on this list. We and the third party manufacturer and supplier are working to clarify this matter with the FDA,” a spokesperson from Family Dollar stated.