Risk of poisoning from hand sanitizers sold in beverage containers

Starting date:
June 10, 2020
Posting date:
June 10, 2020
Type of communication:
Advisory
Subcategory:
Drugs, Natural health products
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Issue:
Important Safety Information
Audience:
General Public
Identification number:
RA-73291

Last updated:

Summary

  • Product: Hand sanitizers sold in beverage containers.
  • Issue: Some manufacturers of hand sanitizers are using packaging that is commonly used for beverages. This could confuse some consumers, who may mistake hand sanitizer for water or other beverages.
  • What to do: Always follow the label directions on hand sanitizers. Store these products away from beverages, and keep them out of the reach of children. Always supervise children when they use hand sanitizer. If hand sanitizer is swallowed, call a poison control centre or seek medical attention right away.

Issue

Some manufacturers of hand sanitizers are having difficulty producing or sourcing containers normally used for medical or household products. Many companies have increased their production in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but are finding that appropriate packaging is limited.

Some companies, such as breweries and distilleries, are using water, wine and liquor bottles for hand sanitizer. The products’ labels and branding may also be similar to the labels and branding of known alcoholic beverages or bottled water so consumers could confuse hand sanitizer for water or other beverages. Ingesting hand sanitizer could cause serious harm, particularly in children, because of the high alcohol content.

All hand sanitizer products authorized for sale by Health Canada have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) or Natural Product Number (NPN) on the label, and are listed on the List of Hand Sanitizers Authorized by Health Canada.

As with all health products, always read and follow the directions on the product label. Hand sanitizers should never be ingested and should always be kept out of the reach of children. Always supervise children when they use hand sanitizer, because ingesting even small amounts can be dangerous or fatal. Health Canada recently issued an advisory about the risk of poisoning from hand sanitizers sold in beverage containers.

In light of global supply shortages, the Government of Canada has issued guidance to industry on acceptable packaging materials and sizes for hand sanitizer products to ensure their availability during the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage manufacturers to consider the appearance of containers to avoid potential confusion by consumers.

Health Canada continues to monitor the situation. If a safety concern or non-compliance is identified, Health Canada will take action and inform Canadians.

What consumers should do

  • Always follow the label directions on hand sanitizers.
  • Store these products away from beverages and keep them out of the reach of children.
  • Always supervise children when they use hand sanitizer.
  • If hand sanitizer is swallowed, call a poison control centre or get medical help right away.
  • Report any health product adverse events or complaints to Health Canada.

Related Links

Media enquiries

Health Canada
(613) 957-2983
hc.media.sc@canada.ca

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1-866 225-0709
hcinfo.infosc@canada.ca