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FDA places all alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico on ‘import alert’

The US Food and Drug Administration has placed all alcohol-based hand sanitizers coming from Mexico on a countrywide "import alert" until it is able to review the products' safety, the agency said. (Provided Photo/Shutterstock via CNN)

(CNN) — The US Food and Drug Administration has placed all alcohol-based hand sanitizers coming from Mexico on a countrywide “import alert” until it is able to review the products’ safety, the agency said.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico will now be subject to heightened scrutiny, and FDA staff may detain shipments, according to a news release.

“Over the course of the ongoing pandemic, the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products from Mexico that were labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but tested positive for methanol contamination,” the FDA said.

Methanol, or wood alcohol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and can be life-threatening if ingested. It is not an acceptable ingredient in hand sanitizer in the United States, according to the FDA.

“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,” Judy McMeekin, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in the release Tuesday.

“Today’s actions are necessary to protect the safe supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. We will continue to work with our stakeholders to ensure the availability of safe products and to communicate vital information with the health and safety of U.S. consumers in mind.”

From April through December 2020, the FDA found that 84% of the samples that were analyzed were not in compliance with the FDA’s regulations and more than half of the samples were found to contain toxic ingredients, including methanol and/or 1-propanol, at dangerous levels, according to the release.

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