Hand sanitizers packaged in food, drink containers could cause serious injury, death: FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning on Thursday over alcohol-based hand sanitizers packaged in food and drink containers, and the potential for “serious injury or death if ingested.”

“Some hand sanitizers are being packaged in beer cans, children’s food pouches, water bottles, juice bottles and vodka bottles,” the agency wrote in a news release. “Additionally, the FDA has found hand sanitizers that contain food flavors, such as chocolate or raspberry.”

In the agency’s statement, Dr. Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner, said he is “increasingly concerned” over the issue because confused consumers may ingest a potentially lethal product. He said kids could smell the hand sanitizer and mistakenly believe it’s food, eat it and get alcohol poisoning.

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Ingesting hand sanitizer could affect the heart and central nervous system, with people possibly winding up in the hospital, or even losing their life, the FDA warned. (iStock)

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In one case, a consumer reportedly bought a bottle they thought to be drinking water, not realizing it was hand sanitizer. Another report involved a hand sanitizer with cartoon marketing in what resembled a snack pouch.

“Drinking only a small amount of hand sanitizer is potentially lethal to a young child, who may be attracted by a pleasant smell or brightly colored bottle of hand sanitizer,” the agency wrote.

Ingesting hand sanitizer could affect the heart and central nervous system, with people possibly winding up in the hospital, or even losing their life, per the FDA. The agency asked that related issues be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program. In the meantime, the FDA said it “continues to proactively work with manufacturers to recall potentially dangerous hand sanitizer products and is strongly encouraging retailers to remove these products from store shelves and online marketplaces.”

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