CBS19: FDA asked to allow distilleries to use undenatured alcohol in hand sanitizer


Distilleries across Virginia have turned their production from drinks to hand sanitizer, including Silverback Distillery in Nelson County.

Legislators in Washington, D.C. have asked the Food and Drug Administration to cut red tape and let producers of distilled spirits to continue making hand sanitizer with their current supplies.

The lawmakers, including Representative Abigail Spanberger, sent a letter to FDA Administrator Stephen Hahn earlier this week asking the FDA to update its guidance to recognize the use of undenatured alcohol in sanitizers.

According to a release, undenatured alcohol, which distillers readily have available, is compliant with the World Health Organization’s hand sanitizer formula and has the same effectiveness as denatured alcohol.

However, the FDA allows for only the use of denatured alcohol in American-produced hand sanitizers.

“Through the current guidance, the FDA is standing in the way of hundreds of thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer from being produced and given to those on the front lines battling this pandemic. We have a responsibility to provide more resources to help flatten the curve and alleviating this burden would allow distilleries the opportunity to step up and help their communities,” wrote the legislators. “We strongly urge the agency to update its guidance to recognize the use of undenatured alcohol in the production of hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 health crisis and work with industry on reasonable safeguards to keep hand sanitizer out of the hands of children.”

The release says U.S. law differentiates between undenatured and denatured alcohol for tax purposes, with undenatured alcohol incurring the distilled spirits Federal Excise Tax.

Piece of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act would temporarily remove that tax on hand sanitizer production as long as a distiller has followed FDA guidance.

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