Recall of certain hand sanitizers that may pose health risks
Health Canada has recently conducted a review of hand sanitizers in the marketplace and has determined that many may pose health risks and have been recalled.
The issue is that these hand sanitizers either contain ingredients that are not permitted by Health Canada or are not properly labelled and are missing important information.
The public is instructed to stop using the identified products. Consult your health care professional if you have used any of these products and have health concerns. Report any health product adverse events or complaints to Health Canada. See the additional information on buying health products safely in the links below.
For a full list of the affected products you can visit Health Canada’s full article on the matter.
Health Canada Hand Sanitizer Rules and Technical Grade Ethanol
The COVID-19 outbreak has created a high demand for hand sanitizers. To increase the supply, Health Canada has taken several measures, including permitting the temporary use of technical-grade ethanol in alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Manufacturers wishing to use technical-grade ethanol must choose from a list of Health Canada-authorized suppliers. They must receive a No Objection Letter from us before they can manufacture or distribute the product.
Technical-grade ethanol contains more impurities than pharmaceutical and food-grade ethanol. Therefore, manufacturers must include the following risk statements on their product labels:
- Under Medicinal Ingredients: “Ethanol XX% (technical-grade)”
- Under Directions: “Adults only”
- Under Warnings: “Do not use on broken or damaged skin,” “Not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding” and “Do not inhale”
- Include a statement for consumers: “Report any incident to Health Canada”
- Under Questions: “Call 1-866-234-2345 to report any adverse reaction”
Hand sanitizers that contain unacceptable grades of ethanol or denaturants that are not approved for sale in Canada have not been reviewed for safety or efficacy. Denaturants are added to ethanol to make it taste bad, to discourage the unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizers, especially by children.
Two unauthorized denaturants have been found in hand sanitizers sold in Canada:
- Ethyl acetate: Frequent use of hand sanitizer containing ethyl acetate may cause dry skin, leading to irritation or cracking
- Methanol: Frequent use of hand sanitizer containing methanol may cause dermatitis, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches