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In a viral video posted to the social media platform TikTok in August 2020, user Christian Grech stated that the brand of hand sanitizer he held in the video had been recalled because it contained the dangerous chemical methanol.
It’s true that Born Basic Anti-Bac hand sanitizer products that were manufactured by Real Clean Distribuciones SA de CV in Mexico were recalled in 2020 by Born Basic. The product is on the FDA’s searchable list of hand sanitizers that are either contaminated or potentially contaminated. The bottles of Born Basic Anti-Bac Hand Sanitizer 70% alcohol that were manufactured at the facility in Mexico were found to contain methanol.
On Aug. 13, 2020, the Born Basic brand published a press release detailing that steps have been taken by the company to remediate the issue:
The company’s CEO wants to ensure that consumer knows that only the Born Basic sanitizer manufactured in the Real Clean Mexican facility with lot numbers identified on the FDA’s list was impacted. All impacted lots have been removed from market.
Aside from issuing a voluntary recall on the affected products, the company halted production at the affected manufacturing facility in Mexico, hired a crisis management company to issue refunds to customers who bought recalled products, and reached out by email and social media to inform the public.
A spokesperson for Born Basic said in an Aug. 16, 2020, email that hand sanitizer products currently on store shelves are safe.
According to the FDA, “Substantial methanol exposure could result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.”
Starting in June 2020, amid a buying frenzy of the products during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA warned the public to avoid a growing list of hand sanitizers that were contaminated with methanol.
As The Associated Press reported in July 2020, “The active ingredient that kills germs in legitimate sanitizers is ethyl alcohol, which is consumable. But some Mexican companies have been replacing it with poisonous methanol, or wood alcohol, which is used in antifreeze.”
In a statement released July 2, 2020, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said:
All Americans should practice good hand hygiene, which includes using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Unfortunately, there are some companies taking advantage of the increased usage of hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic and putting lives at risk by selling products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients. Consumers and health care providers should not use methanol-containing hand sanitizers.