Far too many Americans, most of them children, have been ingesting hand sanitizer and other potentially toxic disinfectants since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the FDA, calls to the National Poison Data System increased 79% in March 2020 compared to the same time last year, and to bring those numbers down they’re asking manufacturers to make hand sanitizer less appealing to the taste buds.
An advisory released by the FDA on Monday encourages makers of hand sanitizer to add denatured alcohol, which tastes bitter, to their products in order to make children (and some adults, one supposes) less likely to ingest them. The FDA noted a case they saw this month, in which a 13-year-old drank hand sanitizer that was made by a distillery and packaged in a liquor bottle. The sanitizer was not denatured, the agency said, and tasted like regular drinking alcohol — not how you’d want it to taste if you want to keep consumers safe.
With so many new manufacturers popping up to meet demand for sanitizer, the FDA is also sending warning letters to companies who make misleading claims about the effectiveness of their products — for example, one that says it can “protect you from pathogens up to 24 hours or for 10 hand washes.” The agency emphasized the importance of proper labeling for both child safety purposes and so that customers don’t get a false sense of security from products that overpromise on their virus-fighting abilities.
The labels could be beneficial in combating the misinformation about sanitizer and other disinfectants, including the suggestion from President Donald Trump last week that they could be injected to fight coronavirus.
“Hand sanitizers are not proven to treat COVID-19, and like other products meant for external use, are not for ingestion, inhalation, or intravenous use,” FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said.
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