(WKRN/WATE) – The Food and Drug Administration has issued a new warning to avoid nearly 90 hand sanitizers that may contain methanol, including one that is made in Tennessee.
Leiper’s Fork Distillery, located in Williamson County, started making 70% ethyl alcohol in the spring for hand sanitizer. They gave it to first responders for free, including Spring Hill police, the Spring Hill Fire Department and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.
The product’s specifications are Leiper’s Fork Distillery bulk disinfectant, both the five-gallon and 16-ounce bottles.
“Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death,” according to the FDA.
If you have any of the listed hand sanitizer products, the FDA says to dispose of them immediately in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Do not flush or pour them down the drain.
Leiper’s Fork Distillery released the following statement:
Because of requests for production by federal agencies and due to the Public Health Emergency caused by Covid-19; in response to the national shortage of disinfectant alcohol, Leiper’s Fork Distillery began producing 70% Ethyl Alcohol for use as a disinfectant on March 20, 2020. This was done as an answer to frantic requests from businesses and various agencies who had no viable option whatsoever in sourcing effective germicide to combat the spread of Covid-19.
From the start, our production methods never deviated from our knowledge of producing consumable beverage grade alcohol. For the production of alcohol, our fermentations consisted naturally of 100% corn and yeast. After fermentation, our process included a triple distillation to a concentration of near 90%% ethyl alcohol. At that point, the distillate we were producing was technically beverage alcohol and would have been considered an American Light Whiskey according to classification. Because of the tremendous demand and resulting shortage of denaturants we added Lavender Oil as a denaturant per Federal Code; Title 27, Chapter 1, Subchapter A, Part 21, Subpart E, Specifications for Denaturants 21.130.
Despite the addition of lavender oil and because of the concern that individuals still may have been tempted to consume the product, we made the additional decision to add “methanol 1.5%” to our label as an added deterrent. This statement was used simply as an added deterrent against consumption. Absolutely no methanol was added and a gas chromatograph, dated 07/22/2020, performed by Ferm Solutions, Inc, Danville, KY, shows NO-DETECTABLE traces of methanol. (See Attachment A) These results were submitted to the FDA on 07/23/2020.
In hindsight, given the recent developments of unscrupulous international producers using large amounts of methanol to taint their products, this decision would not have been made. Along with the addition of unpalatable lavender oil, this was merely an attempt to be responsible and to further deter possible consumption. Regardless, the product has been proven perfectly safe for its labeled and intended use.
At no time were our intentions anything other than to help our community at all levels and to keep our fledgling business, into which we have poured our capital, blood, sweat, and tears, from collapsing. This venture was undertaken as a response to a request, by federal and state agencies, in filling a void in the fight against a global pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in one hundred years. Also in this endeavor we were also attempting to bouy a sinking independent small business in a time of unprecedented crisis; where all sales of our core product had become a distant memory, with no visible end on the horizon, even today. We were able to aid many businesses in their effort to source a required PPE component, which was necessary for them to operate as “essential” services to our community. As a result, we were able help a multitude of first responders protecting our communities.