The Ministry of Health, Wellness & the Environment and the Pesticides & Toxic Chemicals Control Board are aware of several reports from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada (HC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the number of counterfeit Hand Sanitizers being marketed (specifically since the COVID-19 pandemic) have steadily increased.
It is recommended that Hand Sanitizers should contain a minimum of sixty percent (60%) ethanol (also called ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol to be effective. These three (3) health regulatory authorities have recalled more than two hundred (200) products that have tested positive for Methanol contamination.
Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Additionally, the MoHWE and the PTCCB are also concerned with:
- The sale of certain hand sanitizers that may not contain the recommended amount of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol
- Hand sanitizers that are sold or offered for sale with false, misleading and unproven claims that they can prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19, including claims that they can provide prolonged protection for up to 24-hours.
We continue to encourage the public to be guided by the safety measures and protocols put in place to mitigate against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The public is also asked to be mindful of the foregoing information and to read the labels of any product sold as Hand Sanitizers before purchasing. We further wish to assure the public that measures are being taken to protect human health through the rigorous monitoring of imports and the assessment of suspected products that may pose a significant risk while noting that such products have not been confirmed here in Antigua. The list of recalled hand sanitizers can be found at the link below.