The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is placing severe restrictions on alcohol-based hand sanitizers imported from Mexico. The federal health agency announced on Tuesday that the products are defective and manufactured with substances that are injurious to human health. The agency stated that over the past few weeks, over 900 complainants reported poisoning from the sanitizers.
The FDA said some of the complainants developed serious complications after using the products, while others accidentally ingested the substances. The latter category mainly consists of children, and according to the FDA, they make up a large portion of the reports. The statement also mentioned that most of the products contain methanol which is very injurious to people, especially children, whether it is only applied on the skin or swallowed.
The agency said that most of the time, the manufacturers of the product fail to add the toxic substances to the list of ingredients on the label of the products, misleading people and causing great harm to their health, CBS News reports.
“Studies have shown that absorbing the substances through the pores of the skin poses the risk of methanol poisoning but, what is more, worrisome is people mistakenly swallowing the substances, especially infants and toddlers,” the agency stated.
There has been a surge in the number of hand sanitizer brands in the market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This has singularly led to more complaints of swallowing. The agency said the number of reported hand sanitizer-related complaints doubled in January 2021 when compared to the same period in 2020, adding that almost 70% of the reports were of children swallowing the substance.
The FDA cautioned that many of the products masquerade as ethanol-based hand sanitizers, but they actually contain methanol, which can be life-threatening. This is not the first time the agency is warning about the dangers of methanol in hand sanitizers, citing side effects such as permanent loss of vision, hospitalization, headache, irreversible harm to the nervous system, puking, and sometimes, death.
Judy McMeekin, one of FDA’s top regulatory officers stated that the agency will frown against the importation of the products due to their adverse effects on people. The agency said it issued a restriction on the products when the outcome of an investigation revealed that over 80% of the hand sanitizers brought into the country from Mexico included methanol or other harmful substances. The investigation was conducted between April and December 2020.
The agency said it would ensure that it thoroughly checks any hand sanitizer shipment from Mexico to ensure it is safe for use.