FDA had updated the temporary guidance in April to reflect data submitted by fuel ethanol manufacturers producing ethanol via fermentation and distillation, indicating that at least some of their fuel ethanol products have harmful chemicals, including gasoline and benzene, which are known human carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). These impurities would not be expected from a typical fermentation and distillation process but may be present in the manufacturing environment of fuel or technical-grade ethanol, due to the use of certain chemicals, equipment or containers.
FDA reported that it is working with industry to ensure that harmful levels of impurities are not present if ethanol is used in these products. Based on careful review and consideration of available data, FDA is specifying interim levels of certain impurities that we have determined can be tolerated for a relatively short period of time, given the emphasis on hand hygiene during the COVID-19 public health emergency and to avoid exacerbating access issues for alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The FDA said it “appreciates industry’s willingness to help meet the increasing demand for alcohol-based hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on during the public health emergency, as demand for alcohol-based hand sanitizer had dramatically increased, we issued temporary policies to provide flexibility to help meet this demand and to help get supply quickly to where it was needed, whether it was for health care professionals or for individuals and their families.”