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COVID-19: Health Canada recalls 23 hand sanitizers brands. Multiple types of unauthorized industrial-grade ethanol have been found in hand sanitizer products

Health Canada recalled nearly two dozen hand sanitizers from market last week citing product safety concerns.

Both the Tofino and the Ucluelet Consumer Co-ops did not sell any of the 23 hand sanitizer brands recalled by Health Canada, according to the general managers.

“No, we didn’t handle any of these. As for a general comment, we do have a recall system through Federated Co-operatives Limited. This system is not just for food but any item that is recalled and poses a threat to the general public,” said Tofino’s general manager Mike Tomilin.

General manager of the Ucluelet Co-op Laurie Gehrke said the same applies to the Ucluelet grocery store.

Health Canada recalled the hand sanitizing products because they contain industrial-grade ethanol that has not been authorized for use in Canadian hand sanitizers. Industrial-grade ethanol contains impurities that are not found in the types of ethanol approved for use in hand sanitizers, such as pharmaceutical-grade, food-grade and specific sources of technical-grade ethanol, according to the Health Canada notice.

“Since industrial-grade ethanol has not been approved for use in hand sanitizers in Canada, the Department has not reviewed it for safety or efficacy. Multiple types of unauthorized industrial-grade ethanol have been found in hand sanitizer products. Possible adverse reactions may include dermatitis, such as skin irritation and cracking; eye irritation; upper respiratory system irritation; and headaches,” reads the notice.

In mid-March, Health Canada ordered distilleries countrywide to start producing hand sanitizer for essential service workers.

“I was producing hand sanitizer for RCMP, paramedics, Red Cross, you name it,” said Luke Erridge, owner of Ucluelet’s award-winning Pacific Rim Distilling.

Erridge said it was easy enough to switch his food grad consumable spirits product to a food grade ethanol. He’s not at all surprised by the recalls.

“When all this happened it was like the Wild West. During the first month, we didn’t even need a license to produce hand sanitizer,” said Erridge.

“I’m really glad Health Canada is checking this and making sure that everything is up to par. Any of the craft distilleries in B.C. should be producing a good quality, safe sanitizer. It’s unfortunate that there are bad seeds that made it so the public is not feeling as safe as they did before. It’s really unfortunate,” he went on to say.

Erridge produces a hand sanitizer that follows a base recipe from the World Health Organization. He encouraged consumers to check the ingredient list and look out for “foreign neutral grain spirit from China”.

“That is the stuff you want to be careful of. They do not have the same quality of standards that we have here,” he said.

Pacific Rim Distilling offers special rates for local businesses needing to bulk order hand sanitizer. Email for more information.

GM Tomilin reinforced the Co-operatives safety protocols.

“Our COVID-19 health measures include sanitizing of hands or gloves before entry. This measure will continue for the safety of staff and customers. Entry will be denied if this measure is not followed,” he said.

Here is the most recent Health Canada recall list of hand sanitizers products and their manufacturers:

Aktif Antiseptique instantané pour les mains (Laboratoire Hygienex Inc.)
Biogel (Groupe Savon Olympics, Inc.)
Dash Vapes Hand Sanitizer (DashVapes Inc.)
Eltraderm Hand Sanitizer – 70 per cent Ethyl Alcohol (Eltraderm Limited)
eSafe (Groupe Enov, Inc.)
Gel 700 Hand Sanitizer (Nature’s Own Cosmetic Company Inc.)
Gel Antiseptique Pour Les Mains (Mégalab Inc.)
Germzero (Flash Beauté Inc.)
Hand Sanitizer (Contract Packaging Distributions Inc.)
Hand Sanitizer Alco-San (Crown Chemical Products, Inc.)
Hand Sanitizer/Désinfectant pour les mains (Walker Emulsions Ltd.)
Healthcare Plus Sanitizing Hand Gel (The Color Group, Division of Canadian Custom Packaging)
Isogel (Lalema Inc.)
Manogel (Constant America)
Protectenol Hand Sanitizer Liquid (Applied Lubrication Technology)
Sanilabs Hand Sanitizer 70 per cent Ethanol (Sanilabs Inc.)
Sanitagel (Jefo Nutrition, Inc.)
Smart Care (R&D Technical Solutions Ltd.)
Tekare Instant Hand Cleanser Gel (TEKPolymer Inc.)
Tidol Hand Sanitizer 70 per cent (Tidol Corporation)
Vima-San (Crown Chemical Products, Inc.)
Walker Emulsions Hand Sanitizer (Walker Emulsions Ltd.)
X-Pure Vert-2-Go Gel (Wood Wyant Inc.)