Health Canada issues warnings and recalls for specific hand sanitizers and wipes

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      The demand for hand sanitizers and cleaning products has skyrocketed during COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult for many Canadians to find these items on store shelves.

      However, a number of products that have been distributed to stores throughout the country are being cautioned for usage or recalled due to health concerns about ingredients or labelling.

      Here’s a summary of the most recent warnings or recalls issued by Health Canada.

      Akwaton International Multipurpose Wipes

      Since January, Fosfaton-Akwaton International Ltd has distributed an estimated 588 boxes (25 wipes per box) of its Akwaton International Multipurpose Wipes in Canada.

      Health Canada issued a warning on May 27 that it has not authorized Akwaton International Multipurpose Wipes—which have not been reviewed for safety, effectiveness, or quality—for use in Canada.

      These disinfectant wipes contain polyhexamethylene guanidine hydrochloride (PHMG) at a concentration of 0.05 percent (500 ppm).

      This ingredient, used as a biocidal disinfectant, is not approved for use in Canada.

      In addition, as these products were found to have expired in November 2015, the active ingredient may no longer be effective and the water in the product may have evaporated, which could increase the concentration of PHMG.

      Health Canada stated that these wipes may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction, particularly among children.

      Anyone with this product should stop using it immediately and to contact a healthcare professional if you have any health concerns. To dispose of the product, it should be returned to a local pharmacy for proper disposal or follow municipal or regional guidelines for disposing of chemicals and hazardous waste.

      Any adverse reactions from or complaints about these natural health products should be reported to Health Canada. 

      Health products authorized by Health Canada have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), Natural Product Number (NPN), or Homeopathic Drug Number (DIN-HM). Products authorized for sale can be found on Health Canada’s Drug Product Database and Licensed Natural Health Product Database.

      Triton Hand Sanitizer

      Health Canada stated on May 27 that Fluid Energy Group Ltd. distributed units of Triton Hand Sanitizer without the required risk information on the label.

      This hand sanitizer contains technical-grade ethanol, which Health Canada authorized on a temporary basis for use in hand sanitizers in Canada to address increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Health Canada issued a public advisory on April 15 about this temporary authorization.)

      Unfortunately, some units of Triton Hand Sanitizer containing the technical-grade ethanol were distributed and sold without the required risk information on the label.

      The company estimates that approximately 100,000 20-litre pails of the mislabeled product were distributed across Canada. The majority were sold at Canadian Tire stores, in addition to Vallen Canada and Eecol Electric Corporation (which are industrial supply companies).

      Fluid Energy Group Ltd. has contacted all of its customers to request that they stop selling the mislabelled product and is working to correct the labelling issue for any remaining product in stock.

      The company has also updated risk information posted on its website.

      In an assessment of technical-grade ethanol in hand sanitizers, Health Canada determined that, the public-health benefits of using hand sanitizers with approved sources of technical-grade ethanol to limit the spread of COVID-19 outweigh the risks.

      This product should not be used by children, anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding, or who has broken or damaged skin.

      The product should not be inhaled and should remain away from open flames and sources of heat. If irritation develops, stop using the product and contact a healthcare professional.

      Anyone who swallows this product should call a poison control centre or contact medical assistance immediately.

      Any adverse reactions from or complaints about these products should be reported to Health Canada.

      More hand sanitizers

      Meanwhile, several other hand sanitizer products are being recalled because they contain industrial-grade ethanol that hasn’t been authorized for us in Canada.

      Health Canada issued a recall on June 6 for the following products:

      • Eltraderm Limited’s Eltraderm Hand Sanitizer—70 % Ethyl Alcohol: NPN or DIN 80098540, lot number 0217, expiry date April 2022;
      • Contract Packaging Distributions Inc.’s Hand Sanitizer: NPN or DIN 80098453, lots 8613026, 8613042, 8613048, 8613055, 8613057, 8613058, 8613061, 8613064, 8613066, expiry date April 2022;
      • Nature's Own Cosmetic Company Inc.’s Gel 700 Hand Sanitizer: NPN or DIN 80100166, lots 8613026, 8613042, 8613048, 8613055, 8613057, 8613058, 8613061, 8613064, 8613066, expiry date May 2022;      
      • Sanilabs Inc.’s Sanilabs Hand Sanitizer 70% Ethanol: NPN or DIN 80098769, lots 6069 (expiry date April 20, 2022) and 6075 (April 28, 2022);
      • Walker Emulsions Ltd.’s Walker Emulsions Hand Sanitizer: NPN or DIN 80098678, lots 209638, expiry date not on label;
      • Walker Emulsions Ltd.’s Hand Sanitizer Désinfectant pour les mains: NPN or DIN 80100040, lots 210061, expiry date not on label.

      Anyone who has these products should stop using them and dispose of them, by following municipal or regional guidelines on disposing of chemicals or hazardous waste, or return them to a local pharmacy.

      Anyone who has any health concerns should contact a healthcare professional while any adverse reactions or complaints should be reported to Health Canada.

      Health Canada explained in a news release that industrial-grade ethanol contains impurities that aren’t found in ethanol approved for use in manufacturing hand sanitizers. Also, chemicals that may not be approved for use in hand sanitizers are added to industrial-grade ethanol.

      Frequent use of these products may result in dry skin, causing irritation or cracking.

      Since industrial-grade ethanol hasn’t been approved for use in hand sanitizers in Canada, Health Canada hasn’t reviewed it for safety or efficacy.

      Hand sanitizers that have been authorized for use in Canada will display either a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the product label.

      These products can be found on the list of hand sanitizers that meet Health Canada's requirements. A list of hand sanitizers authorized or registered in other jurisdictions that may not display an NPN or DIN but have been accepted for use in Canada during the pandemic is also available.

      Any adverse reactions from or complaints about these products should be reported to Health Canada.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.