FDA hand sanitizer recall widens to over 100 products

In most cases, methanol does not appear on the product label, the FDA said

More than 100 "dangerous" hand sanitizers have made the Food and Drug Administration's rolling list of sanitizers that have been recalled due to the presence of a toxic chemical.

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As of Aug. 4, 115 products -- introduced into the market at a time of heightened risk -- have tested positive for methanol, which is a substance often used to create fuel and antifreeze. The chemical can be poisonous if absorbed through the skin and potentially fatal if ingested, according to the FDA's latest update.

A majority of the methanol-containing hand sanitizers appear to have been manufactured in Mexico, with recalls issued by the manufacturer or distributor.

"Consumers must also be vigilant about which hand sanitizers they use, and for their health and safety we urge consumers to immediately stop using all hand sanitizers on the FDA’s list of dangerous hand sanitizer products,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn said in July.

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To be safe, the FDA is urging consumers not to use any hand sanitizer products from any of the listed manufacturers even if the product or particular lot number is not included in the recall "since some manufacturers are recalling only certain – but not all – of their hand sanitizer products," the FDA said.

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The agency is also proactively working with manufacturers to recall products and urging distributors and retailers to "immediately" stop distributing and selling the gel sanitizers due to the risk of methanol poisoning.

The FDA has been rapidly adding to its continuously updated list, which began in June when the regulator observed an increase in hand sanitizers that purportedly contained ethanol but tested positive for methanol contamination. The agency has reported at least one death associated with tainted hand sanitizer.

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The agency tweeted on Monday about the two latest recalls.

To date, the FDA’s ongoing testing found methanol contamination in hand sanitizer products ranged from 1 percent to 80 percent.

In most cases, the toxic chemical does not appear on the label, according to the FDA. However, "methanol is not an acceptable ingredient in any drug, including hand sanitizer, even if methanol is listed as an ingredient on the product label," the agency said.

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Substantial exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death, according to the FDA. Consumers experiencing symptoms should seek "immediate treatment," the agency said.

The FDA’s investigation into the methanol contamination is ongoing. Its full list of recalled products, which will be updated as more information becomes available, can be viewed on the agency's website.

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