Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its website with more information about the 2019 novel coronavirus. Additionally, it also shared some tips as to some of the essential items people should bring along when they head out in public. Among the ones listed were cloth face coverings or surgical masks, facial tissues, and hand sanitisers. The latter is a handy alternative when there is no access to facilities where one can wash their hands. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against the use of ones from Eskbiochem SA de CV.

It appears that some of the hand sanitisers produced by the Mexican brand contain methanol, which is potentially dangerous, reports ABC News. According to the FDA "Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitisers and should not be used due to its toxic effects." It also added: "Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment."

The products from Eskbiochem SA de CV that were indicated include CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitiser 80 percent Alcohol, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitiser 80 percent Alcohol, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitiser 75 percent Alcohol, Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitiser, Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitiser, All-Clean Hand Sanitiser, and Esk Biochem Hand Sanitiser. On June 17, the FDA already contacted the manufacturer and informed them of its findings.

However, as of this writing, the aforementioned products are still on store shelves with no action taken by the company. As such, the public should take note of items identified by the federal government agency and not purchase any. Those who already have it should immediately stop its use and dispose of the remaining contents in "appropriate hazardous waste containers." Moreover, it should not be flushed or poured down the drain.

Coronavirus: Best way to wash your hands
The different steps in effectively washing your hands. Photo: AFP / Sophie RAMIS

The FDA points out that individuals exposed to methanol-based hand sanitisers might experience vomiting, permanent blindness, blurred vision, nausea, nervous system damage, seizures, coma, and death. Additionally, if accidentally ingested by children or drunk as an alcohol substitute, it can lead to methanol poisoning. As much as possible, people should just wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.