Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa





Iowa Senators Respond to FDA’s Temporary Hand Sanitizer Rule

Jun 03, 2020
WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) today addressed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) revised guidance regarding the manufacturing of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grassley and Ernst sent a letter to FDA last week requesting clarification on its temporary policy and the agency’s scientific justification relating to the recommended levels of acetaldehyde used in hand sanitizer products.
“During this trying time, we need all hands on deck. Many communities in Iowa and around the country are answering the call by shifting their ethanol production to create alcohol-based hand sanitizers. While I appreciate hearing from the FDA, setting such a high standard for acetaldehyde is concerning. Acetaldehyde occurs naturally in the distillation process and at this current standard many common alcoholic beverages would be deemed out of compliance. I plan to continue to work with FDA to set a reasonable standard that protects public health and gives Iowa ethanol producers the flexibility to aid Iowa hospitals and communities,” Grassley said.
“Iowans continue to step up and help one another out during COVID-19, and that certainly includes our ethanol producers and distillers who have used their resources to help create hand sanitizer,” Ernst said. “I’m glad that FDA heard our concerns and those of industry and provided much needed clarity, but I’m concerned this guidance may be too restrictive, leaving ethyl alcohol produced by Iowa’s ethanol industry on the sidelines when the need for hand sanitizer remains high. I’ll continue to push FDA to provide additional flexibility so our producers can aid in the fight to defeat COVID-19.”
Grassley and Ernst previously highlighted that Health Canada – the Canadian government’s equivalent to FDA – published a temporary standard that slightly relaxes limitations on acetaldehyde so that ethanol producers may help meet the growing need for hand sanitizer. Canada’s temporary acetaldehyde level is 20 times higher than the current FDA recommendation.