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Toxic Sanitizer sold at Dollar Tree? The company disputes the FDA warning

Deanna Dewberry
Updated: July 15, 2020 11:24 AM
Created: July 14, 2020 04:49 PM

(WHEC) — In consumer news, there are potentially killer hand sanitizers on a store shelf near you. How do I know? I bought one at the discount store, Dollar Tree.

A loyal viewer sent me a picture of five bottles of hand sanitizer he bought at Dollar Tree. It's Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer with Vitamin E and Aloe.

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It's one of dozens of hand sanitizers, all made in Mexico, that the FDA says may contain methanol.

That's a chemical that if accidentally ingested or absorbed through the skin can cause serious health events including permanent blindness, seizures coma and death.

So I went to four different Dollar Tree stores in our area. I struck out at the first three.

Clerks told me the hand sanitizer sells out just hours after they restock.

But then I went to the Dollar Tree in the village of Fairport. And Bingo! The store had several bottles for sale beside the counter, and beside each register was a bottle for the clerks to use.

So I checked the back for the manufacturer. The product is distributed by Greenbrier International, the parent company of Dollar Tree.

And the bottle indicates it was made in China, not Mexico.

Dollar Tree owns the Assured brand, and it hires foreign third-party manufacturers to make its products. So it's likely the recalled sanitizer is actually being made by a number of different foreign companies, creating a confusing situation for consumers.

Are Assured Instant Hand Sanitizers made in Mexico potentially dangerous, but the ones made in China deemed safe?

That's a question I asked the FDA. A spokesman for the agency returned my email quickly saying while the recall is for the facility in Mexico, you should not use any hand sanitizers from this brand, no matter where it's made. He sent me the following statement:

"The FDA recommends that consumers immediately stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of the bottle in a hazardous waste container, if available, or dispose of as recommended by your local waste management and recycling center. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain or mix with other liquids.”

I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you this is not the first time Dollar Tree has been slapped by the FDA for products manufactured under its Assured brand label.

In November of last year, the FDA sent Dollar Tree a warning letter saying those foreign manufactures it hires were committing all kinds of violations such as operating in facilities filled with rat droppings as well as failing to test the raw materials and the finished products for bacteria or viruses that can make you sick.

I've called and emailed Dollar Tree executives repeatedly. This afternoon, a spokesperson sent me the following response:

“We are aware of the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report regarding certain hand sanitizer product. The third party manufacturer and supplier of this product has confirmed that none of our product contains methanol or was otherwise contaminated.  The third party manufacturer and supplier has now issued a formal recall of certain potentially contaminated product and our hand sanitizer was not included on this list.  We and the third party manufacturer and supplier are working to clarify this matter with the FDA.”

I’ll continue to investigate the matter and let you know what happens.


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