FDA Warns Consumers About False Hand Sanitizer Claims

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Do you use hand sanitizers? Many do but the question is how safe are they and do they really do what they say they do? That is the question the FDA is now looking in to.

The FDA is warning consumers not to buy hand sanitizers “that claim to prevent infection from MRSA, E. coli, salmonella, flu, or other bacteria or viruses.”

According to the FDA, they are cracking down on companies that break federal law by promoting their products as preventing MRSA infections and other diseases without agency review and approval. The FDA points to four companies whose products, it says, are in violation of FDA regulations.

· Staphaseptic First Aid Antiseptic/Pain Relieving Gel from Tec Laboratories

· Safe4Hours Hand Sanitizing Lotion and Safe4Hours First Aid Antiseptic Skin Protectant from JD Nelson and Associates

· Dr. Tichenor’s Antiseptic Gel from Dr. G.H. Tichenor Antiseptic Co.

· CleanWell All-Natural Foaming Hand Sanitizer, CleanWell All-Natural Hand Sanitizer, CleanWell All-Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipes, and CleanWell All-Natural Antibacterial Foaming Handsoap from Oh So Clean Inc. (doing business as CleanWell Company).

According to an FDA representative, ” The FDA has not approved any products claiming to prevent infection from MRSA, E. coli, Salmonella, or H1N1 flu, which a consumer can just walk into a store an buy, These products give consumers a false sense of protection.”

An FDA spokesperson tells WebMD that consumers should continue to follow CDC advice to use hand sanitizers when water is not available.

The CDC advice specifically says alcohol-based hand sanitizers help protect (not kill) against MRSA and other germs. During flu season, the CDC continually warns Americans to prevent flu by using hand sanitizers when soap and water isn’t available.

FDA Recommends the following:

  • Don’t buy over-the-counter hand sanitizers or other products that claim to prevent infection from MRSA, E. coli, Salmonella, flu, or other bacteria or viruses.
  • Ask your pharmacist or other health care professional for help in distinguishing between reliable and questionable information on product labels and company websites.
  • In general, wash hands often, especially before handling food, to help avoid getting sick. Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. For children, this means the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  • If you find products on the Internet that you believe make false or unproven claims, tell FDA by following the instructions at Reporting Unlawful Sales on Internet5.
  • Report side effects that you think may be related to using hand sanitizers or other medical products to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program either online, by regular mail, by fax, or by phone.

Hopefully, most consumers are wise enough to understand that there is no substitution for washing your hands and that Hand Sanitizer’s aren’t  designed to replace washing your hands but used in circumstances where soap and water aren’t readily available.

What is your favorite hand sanitizer and does this report effect your decision to continue your use?

3 thoughts on “FDA Warns Consumers About False Hand Sanitizer Claims”

  1.  Interesting post-thank you. Yes, washing with good ol’ fashioned soap and water is by far the best option.  We wash to the ABC song (same tune as Happy Birthday).  When we are out and don’t have access to a sink we use CleanWell products-and have been using them for a long time.  I am disappointed to hear that they have been making false claims-but I will continue to use hand sanitizers that are free of alcohol and other harsh chemicals.

  2. I have always wondered about hand sanitizers too.  It’s not like you can test your hand to see how well they are working.  I just try to choose the most natural products (Burt’s Bees, Dr. Bronners, Babyganics) and hope for the best!  Thanks for the post.

  3. I don’t think this report is saying they are bad… it’s saying the FDA hasn’t done enough research to find out if their claims are valid. 

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