The Food and Drug Administration is warning that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are being sold in containers that look like food and drink packaging, and may have added flavors. That could increase the chance someone such as a child will accidentally drink it with potentially deadly results.
The FDA said some of the packaging includes children's food pouches, water and juice bottles, beer cans and vodka bottles. The sanitizers may also be flavored, such as chocolate or raspberry.
The FDA said it received a report that someone bought a bottle they thought was drinking water but was hand sanitizer instead. Another report indicated hand sanitizer was sold in a pouch that resembled a snack. The packaging had cartoons for children.
"These products could confuse consumers into accidentally ingesting a potentially deadly product. It’s dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement.
The agency did not name any specific brands or products with hand sanitizers that are packaged like this. Hahn urged manufacturers to take care in how they package their hand sanitizers and said the FDA would take "appropriate action" if necessary.
"Drinking only a small amount of hand sanitizer is potentially lethal to a young child, who may be attracted by a pleasant smell or brightly colored bottle of hand sanitizer," the FDA said in a statement.
This is on the heels of repeated FDA warnings about hand sanitizers made with methanol rather than ethyl alcohol. Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, can be toxic and potentially deadly if ingested. The FDA said there have been recent cases of ingesting these sanitizers which have led to blindness, hospitalizations and death. The FDA has a list of at least 165 hand sanitizers that have methanol or other impurities that it says consumers should not use.