FDA recalled hand sanitizer being sold at stores in Tampa Bay

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 18:33:44-04

If you’ve got hand sanitizer in your house, you’ll want to double check your bottle.

The FDA continues to update their list of recalls for dozens of hand sanitizer brands, saying they contain a form of alcohol that can be toxic or life threatening when ingested.

Several people report purchasing hand sanitizer on that list from grocery stores around the Tampa Bay area, including Costco.

Local mom Erin Greenwood is one of them. She purchased a bottle of Blumen hand sanitizer from Costco a few weeks ago.

“Both of my boys that are four and two have used it regularly,” said Greenwood.

They used it regularly until Thursday, when Erin saw reports of the FDA recall, and Blumen was first on the list.

“They actually spilled it all over the place so there was a lot on them at one point, and again, luckily nothing happened, but it’s still something I feel like we need awareness of,” said Greenwood.

The FDA’s recall list now includes more than 75 hand sanitizer brands that are labeled to contain "ethanol," or "ethyl alcohol," which is what you want your hand sanitizer to have, but that have actually tested positive for "methanol," a type of wood alcohol that can be toxic, and even deadly.

“The hand sanitizer was made in Mexico. We discovered this towards the end of June, when we had a couple of patients that had ingested this hand sanitizer and became severely poisoned,” said Dr. Alfred Aleguas, Director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa.

Several people were poisoned, and several people died in New Mexico after ingesting the hand sanitizer.

Since then, the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa reports a more than 300 percent increase in calls related to hand sanitizer.

“Majority of those were dermal exposures or hand exposures. People are concerned, of course, when they find out this toxic alcohol-containing hand sanitizer is out there,” said Dr. Aleguas.

Hand sanitizer has been hard to come by the last few months, so what exactly should you look for when you find it?

Dr. Aleguas says you’ll want to find bottles of hand sanitizer that contain one of two things:

  • Ethanol, with a concentration of 70% or more
  • Ethyl alcohol, with a concentration of 70% or more

Dr. Aleguas also recommends purchasing hand sanitizer that was made here in the United States.

“Anything that’s made in Mexico, I would be hesitant to use it,” said Dr. Aleguas.

Hillsborough County leaders are asking residents that if they have hand sanitizer to discard, go to Household Hazardous Waste sites.

If you’ve got questions about your hand sanitizer, the Florida Poison Information Center asks you to give them a call at: 1-800-222-1222.

You can also visit the Florida Poison Information Center by clicking here.