FDA Warns Consumers about Hand Sanitizers that Look Like Food

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. mistake for (someone/something) / mɪˈsteɪk fər / (phrasal) – to confuse someone or something for another

    Edward is usually mistaken for his twin brother.

  2. abdominal / æbˈdɒm ə nl / (adj) – relating to the area around the stomach

    I might have abdominal surgery because I’ve been experiencing severe stomach pain.

  3. artificial ventilation / ˌɑr təˈfɪʃ əl ˌvɛn tlˈeɪ ʃən / (n) – the process of supporting breathing using a machine

    The patient needs to be on artificial ventilation for a long time because of a serious lung disease.

  4. mindful / ˈmaɪnd fəl / (adj) – aware of something

    Celebrities should always be mindful of what they say to the public.

  5. inadvertent / ˌɪn ədˈvɜr tnt / (adj) – unintentional; not planned

    An inadvertent accounting error caused a delay in the release of employee paychecks.


Read the text below.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers about hand sanitizers that are packaged in food-like containers.

The FDA found that some hand sanitizers are sold in packages that resemble juice bottles, water bottles, beer cans, and food pouches for kids. Some sanitizers are even labeled with flavors like chocolate and raspberry.

According to the agency, the sanitizers might be mistaken for actual food or drink products because of their packaging. Previously, the agency received a report about a customer purchasing a bottle of hand sanitizer, thinking it was drinking water. Another report said that some hand sanitizers were packaged in snack-like containers that featured cartoons for children.

Regardless of the amount ingested, accidentally consuming hand sanitizer may lead to vomiting, abdominal pain, and irritation of the stomach lining. Consumption of large amounts of sanitizer may lead to confusion, difficulty breathing requiring artificial ventilation, and even death. According to Dr. Robert Glatter, a physician at a New York-based hospital, children are the most at risk.

The FDA is currently working with manufacturers to recall the hand sanitizers packaged in food-like containers. The agency advised manufacturers to be mindful of the marketing and packaging of hand sanitizers to prevent any inadvertent use by customers. The FDA also added the misleading products to its list of hand sanitizers consumers should avoid using.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Should manufacturers be held accountable if consumers mistakenly consume their hand sanitizers and get sick? Why or why not?
• How can consumers minimize the risk of accidentally consuming toxic products because of their packaging (e.g. make sure to read the product description)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What do you think companies should consider when designing their products’ packaging (e.g. cost of packaging, safety of packaging materials)? Discuss.
• What do you think companies today should improve in their products’ packaging (e.g. use environment-friendly materials, make packaging reusable)? Discuss.