U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting clarification on its temporary policy for the manufacture of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FDA released temporary guidance on March 27, 2020 regarding ethanol used for hand sanitizer production during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on this guidance, biofuel manufacturers made investments and began production of alcohol for hand sanitizer. On April 15, 2020 FDA then revised this guidance leaving many in the industry unclear of what standards need to be met.
“As more of the economy gets reopened, the need for hand sanitizer at schools, restaurants, churches, factories, and other locations will continue to grow. While the FDA has taken action to prevent a potential shortage, further clarification is needed to help businesses have certainty on the future of hand sanitizer manufacturing,” the senators wrote.
“While understanding the need for safe, effective, and affordable hand sanitizer for our country, we ask that you immediately review your risk analysis and criteria for evaluating samples of ethanol from renewable fuel manufacturers. We appreciate the work that the FDA has done so far to combat COVID-19 and ask that you follow up with our offices by June 2, 2020, to ensure our country has a robust supply of hand sanitizer to ensure a reopening that is safe and sterile,” the senators concluded.
Iowa leads the nation in biofuel production with 43 ethanol plants and 11 biodiesel plants. This production helps support 43,000 jobs throughout the Iowa economy. With social distancing guidelines in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic gasoline use in the United States plummeted to 50-year lows around the country. Rather than wait for the economy to rebound, biofuel producers across Iowa shifted production to manufacture hand sanitizer to help meet the needs of their communities across the state.