FDA puts all alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico on ‘import alert.’ What that means

David J. Neal
·2 min read

Saying too many tests of too many hand sanitizers made in Mexico show too much “toxic” ingredient content, the FDA put all alcohol-based hand sanitizers made in Mexico on an import alert.

“This marks the first time the FDA has issued a countrywide import alert for any category of drug product,” the agency said Tuesday.

To clear up a few things about this..

Are all hand sanitizers from Mexico banned?

No. This isn’t a ban.

An import alert means alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico are, the agency says, “subject to heightened FDA scrutiny” before being released onto the U.S. market.

Though the FDA says “alcohol-based” hand sanitizers, it might as well say just “hand sanitizers.” The FDA put some hand sanitizers on its Do Not Use List, which it started in June with several Mexico-made hand sanitizers, for having too little ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol.

Which brings us to...

Why is the FDA doing this?

The FDA says that 84% of samples from alcohol-based sanitizers from Mexico checked from April through December 2020 didn’t meet the agency’s regulations.

“More than half of the samples were found to contain toxic ingredients, including methanol and/or 1-propanol, at dangerous levels,” the agency said. “In most cases, methanol does not appear as an ingredient on the product label.”

From June to October, the FDA regularly lengthened the Do Not Use list with hand sanitizers that had methanol, 1-propanol, under 70% alcohol as well as any hand sanitizers believed to be made in the same facilities. The list was merely advisory for consumers, although many of the hand sanitizers did wind up getting recalled.

More hand sanitizers recalled as possibly ‘toxic.’ One is sold at Publix and Kroger

“Consumer use of hand sanitizers has increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when soap and water are not accessible, and the availability of poor-quality products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients will not be tolerated,” said Judy McMeekin, FDA associate commissioner for Regulatory Affairs.

How do I know if my hand sanitizer is affected?

Take a look at the label to see if it’s made in Mexico. Those brands will be harder to come by now. Unless it’s been recalled or is on the Do Not Use list, keep using it.

6 hand sanitizers for kids recalled. There’s a reason kids might eat or drink them