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FDA warns about a little something extra in two brands of hand sanitizer

March 3, 2010 |  5:31 pm

How’s this for irony – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to stop using two brands of hand sanitizers because they contain … dangerous bacteria.

That’s right. “Bee-Shield Hand Sanitizer” and “MD Quality Hand Sanitizer” (both made with aloe vera) were found to have high levels of Burkholderia cepacia, which “can cause serious infections in humans,” according to the FDA alert. Specifically, the agency warns:

“Burkholderia can cause harm when hand sanitizers are used on skin with cuts or abrasions. Infections caused by the microbe that begin in the skin may progress farther into the body and require medical or surgical attention.”

The sanitizers in question were manufactured by Puerto Rico Beverage Inc. and are only available in Puerto Rico. Luckily, no serious problems have yet been reported. The full FDA warning is online here.

The bacteria is generally not a major problem in the U.S., but it has been known to cause trouble in the respiratory tracts of cystic fibrosis patients. You can read more about B. cepacia here and here.

-- Karen Kaplan