‘Anti-Microbe’ Hand Sanitizers Distributed to Schools Recalled: Health Canada

January 25, 2021 Updated: January 25, 2021

Health Canada announced a recall for hand sanitizers labelled “Anti-Microbe” from the market due to more than permitted amounts of benzalkonium chloride found in the products which may pose health hazards—especially to children.

The advisory notice posted by the agency on Jan. 22 said Atoms F.D. Inc. (Atoms), a Quebec-based soap and detergent manufacturing company, issued a recall for various hand sanitizer products because they contain 0.3 percent of benzalkonium chloride—twice the amount allowed for personal or domestic use.

Benzalkonium chloride is an ingredient mainly used as a surfactant and antibacterial agent, commonly found in disinfectants and hand sanitizers.

Products containing 0.3 percent benzalkonium chloride should be labelled for adult use in an industrial setting only, such as health care and food processing facilities, the agency said, adding that “the affected products are not appropriately labelled with this information.”

According to Health Canada, the affected products have the label “Anti-Microbe” and/or with the Drug Identification Number 02248351 on them.

Frequent use of those hand sanitizers may cause red, itchy, dry, or scaly skin, and in some cases, peeling, swelling, or blistering.

“In rare cases, an allergic reaction can happen and can be serious,” the agency warned. “Signs of an allergic reaction include rash and hives; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat; chest or throat tightness; and wheezing or trouble breathing.”

Children up to 12 years old, adolescents, and people with skin conditions such as eczema are particularly susceptible to the negative side effects, the agency added, while noting that some of the affected products were already distributed to various schools in Quebec, and the rest were either sold online or in stores to the general public in Ontario and Quebec.

Health Canada said it has directed Atoms to recall the affected products from the public, and to rectify their labelling to make it clear that the product is “for industrial use only” and “Keep out of children.”

Other companies that have bought the same hand sanitizers from Atoms, but have resold them under their private labels were also mentioned by Health Canada, though the list may not be complete:

  • Anti-Microbe by Atoms
  • 32 Anti-Microbe by Groupe BOD
  • Essence 360 Anti-Microbe by Essence360 International
  • Nutra One Anti-Microbe by Nutra One Inc.
  • Paoch Anti-Microbe by Enterprise Poach Inc.
  • Produits Bio-Expert Anti-Microbe by Produits Bio-experts Inc.
  • Trilux Anti-Microbe by Trilux
  • Yunisan Handzo by Arclay Natural Technologies Inc.

Health Canada is advising customers to stop using the affected hand sanitizers, dispose of them, or return to local pharmacies for proper disposal.