FDA warns Filipinos against using unregistered or methanol-based hand sanitizers, alcohol

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2020 09:57 PM | Updated as of Jul 16 2020 12:45 PM

MANILA - The Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines (FDA) warned consumers on Wednesday against hand sanitizers and alcohol products that might not be registered or contain dangerous substances. 

“Karamihan ng ating kababayan meron talaga silang dalang alcohol o hand sanitizer na gel at ito naman ay magandang alternatibo sa paghugas ng kamay. Ang kailangan lang, sigurado tayo sa kanyang content at tama talaga ang paggamit natin,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said during a televised briefing of the Department of Health.

(Many of our people now carry alcohol or hand sanitizing gel and these are good alternatives to washing your hands. But you also need to make sure that the content is safe and you are using it correctly.)

Domingo gave this reminder as the Philippines continues to see a rise in COVID-19 cases. Washing hands and using hand sanitizers are among the daily reminders of the government to help curb the spread of the disease.
He said rubbing alcohol should be made up of 50% ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol while hand sanitizing gel should have 60% of those.

In Canada, he said, a number of products were found to have industrial grade ethanol, which is unsafe for people and can only be used on machinery or equipment.

He said that while those products are not being sold in the Philippines, the FDA has confiscated a number of hand sanitizing products containing another dangerous substance.

“Ang medyo nakakatakot lang sa atin, marami tayo nahuhuli na may lamang methanol,” he said. “So yung methanol siguro po pamilyar kayo yung tunog kasi naalala nyo pag may namamatay o nabubulag sa lambanog, ito yung nahuhuli natin na laman.”

(It is quite worrying that we have been confiscating a lot of products containing methanol. Methanol might be familiar to you because this is the substance that causes blindness or death if taken with alcoholic drinks.)

Domingo said methanol is also harmful to the skin because it can result in irritation.

Unlike during the start of the pandemic, the FDA official said there is no longer a shortage in alcohol and hand sanitizers so individuals should not resort to making their own at home.

In the past months, authorities have been raiding manufacturers and sellers of fake or overpriced alcohol.

Domingo said aside from keeping an eye out for FDA advisories against questionable products, consumers should also know how to identify FDA-registered products.

He said these are those with proper labeling, from the brand name to the local company that manufactured or distributed it. There should also be instruction on how to use the product and a list of the ingredients.

“Pag hindi po nakalagay yun probably po hindi yan registered product,” he said.

(If those are not listed then it’s probably not a registered product.)

He said people should also refrain from buying alcohol placed in water bottles, which can also be dangerous and be mistaken as a drink.

Domingo also warned those making homemade alcohol, saying they might cause a fire and put their families in peril.