The wrong lists keep getting longer—the list of hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol but have tested positive for methanol contamination, and the list of accidental poisonings attributed to hand sanitizer.
The Federal Drug Administration’s list of improperly labeled hand sanitizer was up to 94 entries as of this writing. Every entry I saw on the list was made in Mexico. I am not aware of any improperly labeled sanitizer being sold to hotels but please be careful about what you buy and where you buy it. Some of the improperly labeled sanitizer was sold at Walmart and Target. (I certainly trust any of the sanitizer sold by suppliers associated with Green Lodging News.)
What is wrong with methanol? Methanol, or wood alcohol, can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested, and can be life-threatening when ingested. The FDA is aware of recent cases of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that have led to adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations, and death.
There are currently no drugs, including hand sanitizer, approved by FDA to prevent or treat COVID-19.
Be Especially Mindful of Children
It is easy to buy sanitizer and place it around your hotel but please be mindful of the kids (and adults!) who may be tempted to taste the sanitizer. Manufacturers make it taste bad to discourage consumption but that does not stop everyone. Accidental poisoning is happening, and it is inevitable that it will happen in a hotel.
According to a CBS News report, through the third week of July, there was a 59 percent spike this year in calls to one of the 55 poison control centers around the United States due to various incidents involving sanitizer compared to the same period last year, according to data from the National Poison Data System. Of those 18,625 cases, nearly 12,000 involved kids age five and younger. It does not take much sanitizer ingestion to kill a small child.
It is because of the jump in poisoning incidents that the FDA has stepped up its testing of products.
One of my hotel industry friends, Anthony Marshall, who passed away in 2006, always talked about using “reasonable care” when addressing guest and hotel safety issues. Are you using reasonable care in how you place sanitizer around the property and how you warn your guests about its proper use? Ultimately, it is up to parents to police their kids, but we all know that system is not perfect. The FDA says that for kids under six, sanitizer should be used with adult supervision.
If a child does ingest sanitizer on your property, call a poison control facility or medical professional immediately.
Thank you to LATHER’s Rob Hoyt for bringing these issues to my attention.
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