DISCUS Campaign Supports FDA Safety Concerns After 79% Increase in Calls to Poison Control Centers Related to Unintentional Ingestion of Hand Sanitizer by Children

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS)  launched a public education campaign to remind adults to keep hand sanitizer out of reach of children.

“Amid a massive shortage of hand sanitizer in the United States, more than 700 distillers across the country are coming to the aid of their communities to produce this much-needed item during the COVID-19 crisis,” said DISCUS President and CEO Chris Swonger. “Distillers are jumping in to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but we also want to raise awareness among adults that hand sanitizer should be kept out of reach of children.”

The campaign features public education images created by DISCUS that will be shared on their website and highlighted across its social media platforms. In addition, DISCUS is providing the images to distillers who are producing hand sanitizer and encouraging them to share on their social media channels.

“The message is simple: Keep your kids safe by keeping hand sanitizer out of reach,” said Swonger. “Through this campaign, we want to help share a proactive prevention message as we fire up our stills to keep our communities safe.”

Swonger said the public education campaign was developed to support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has expressed concern about children inadvertently consuming hand sanitizer as the demand for this product increases due to COVID-19. 

As of today, April 15th, 2020, the FDA has updated their guidance on the production of hand sanitizer, stressing the importance of denaturing alcohol used in hand sanitizer:  

“Denaturing is critical because there have been reports of adverse events, including deaths, from unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizer, particularly in young children. The alcohol should be denatured at either (1) the point of production by the alcohol production firm or (2) the point of manufacture or compounding of the hand sanitizer, with the alcohol intended for incorporation into a finished product labeled accurately as “denatured” or “undenatured” accordingly”.

“Every month, there are hundreds of calls to Poison Control centers for unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizer. As indicated from data provided by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), in March 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic), calls to Poison Control centers related to hand sanitizer increased by 79% compared to March of 2019. The majority of these calls were for unintentional exposures in children 5 years of age and younger”. For more information, see updated guidance here:  Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19) Guidance for IndustryPolicy for Temporary Compounding of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency, and Temporary Policy for Manufacture of Alcohol for Incorporation Into Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19)

“There’s no doubt distillers would prefer to be making whiskey and other spirits right now, but they are all honored to be able to support their local first responders and health professionals in the fight against COVID-19,” said Swonger. “The distilled spirits industry is committed to doing its part and we will continue to work closely with the FDA to meet the significant demand for hand sanitizer.”

For more information, please visit http://distilledspirits.org/KeepOutOfReach