Dont Drink Hand San - © 2020 Ars Technica

COVID-19 Experience: Beware! Hand San May Look Like Food!

I guess it had to happen at some point. Folks who have begun making Hand Sanitizer during the pandemic have been using any sort of container they can find to get it out there and onto store shelves. But that’s led to a dangerous situation where many kids and even adults have mistaken hand sans for various foods…

Han San Kid And Mom - © medicalnewstoday.comMake sure kids are closely supervised when using hand sanitizer…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement warning Americans (and others where similar situations exist) not to buy certain alcohol-based hand sanitizers after it was made aware that some companies are packaging their potentially deadly products in Beer Cans (see photo, top of page), Baby Food and Toddler Snack Pouches, and even containers that resemble Drinking Water and Vodka Bottles.

Some hand sans have also been labelled with food ‘flavour’ or aroma names such as ‘Chocolate or ‘Vanilla’.

A flood of complaints

The FDA reports that it’s received a flood of complaints from consumers about hand sanitizers that were mistaken as food or beverages based on their containers, raising the spectre of serious or deadly accidents.

In one such case, an adult consumer reported buying a product he thought was flavoured Water, but was in fact, a hand san. In another, the agency eceived a report from a retailer about a hand sanitizer product marketed with cartoons, aimed to at children, that was in a pouch that resembled a ‘squeeze’ snack.

A wide variety of dangers

The FDA warning states that, “drinking only a small amount of hand sanitizer is potentially lethal to a young child. […] The FDA continues to see an increasing number of adverse events with hand sanitizer ingestion, including cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, hospitalizations and death.”

An extremely troubling issue

“I am increasingly concerned about hand sanitizer being packaged to appear to be consumable products, such as baby food or beverages. These products could confuse consumers into accidentally ingesting a potentially deadly product. It’s dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D.

“Manufacturers should be vigilant about packaging and marketing their hand sanitizers in food or drink packages in an effort to mitigate any potential inadvertent use by consumers. The FDA continues to monitor these products and we’ll take appropriate actions as needed to protect the health of Americans.”

What you an do

For more information, consumers should refer to the FDA’s guidelines on safe use of hand sanitizer as well as its question and answer page.

The FDA also maintains a web page that hosts a list of hand sanitizer products the FDA urges consumers not to use, along with a description for consumers on how to use the list, which is being updated regularly.

My take

A couple of things the FDA warning does nor explicitly remind us to do (but should): Keep all hand sanitizers out of reach of young children, and allow kids to use them only under close adult supervision.

~ Maggie J.