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Hand Sanitizer Labeling Guide

March 23, 2021

Even before the pandemic, hand sanitizers were relatively popular. Readily found in business lobbies, shopping centers, and other locations, hand sanitizer dispensers were certainly used on occasion. But prior to the first cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., many people never even gave them a second thought -- nor did some people carry hand sanitizer products with them on their person.

But over the last year, the conversation surrounding hand sanitizers has changed significantly. What was once treated as a non-essential or even an over-reaction to perceived germ presence has now become a must-have for millions of Americans. And as such, it's become important for businesses across the country to produce hand sanitizers in order to keep up with demand and to safeguard the public during a major health crisis.

More than ever, hand sanitizer product labeling matters. The public has become increasingly aware of what hand sanitizers should and should not contain. In order to ensure compliance with federal agencies, prevent product recalls, and provide the best possible protection for consumers, it's crucial that manufacturers of hand sanitizers meet all requirements in all parts of this process -- including the labeling stage.

Let's take a closer look at how hand sanitizer rose to popularity over the last year and what businesses need to know about creating the best possible products (and product label designs for those products) to combat COVID-19.

Why Has Hand Sanitizer Production Become So Popular?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, frequent hand-washing has been cited as one of the main ways to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus. While maintaining physical distance and wearing face coverings are also recommended preventative methods, hand-washing remains crucial in the fight against COVID-19.

At the same time, many businesses were forced to temporarily close due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic. As such, many organizations were unable to continue their usual operations. This means that many businesses chose to pivot their daily work in order to stay open and to continue employing their workers.

This was especially true of many distilleries and companies that already produced alcohol, as well as a variety of other manufacturers (some of whom also made personal protective equipment).

These changes not only allowed these businesses to remain operational but also addressed a major public need. At a time when panic-buying meant that products like hand sanitizer were completely sold out in stores and even online, the demand for hand sanitizer was through the roof. By embracing hand sanitizer production, these businesses were able to provide the supply to fit the demand -- and, by and large, this was accomplished without price gouging.

Communities were able to support these local businesses while obtaining the products they needed to keep them safe, which is a true win-win in the eyes of the public. And while more conventional hand sanitizer products have now become readily available again, these facilities could be prepared to step in if future shortages impact the supply chain.

What Are the Requirements For Hand Sanitizer Production?

Although these businesses were able to address a huge need, the process of getting to that point was not necessarily smooth. There are a number of health and safety issues that needed to be addressed in order to begin hand sanitizer production within these facilities, as outlined by the FDA specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to protect consumers and ensure product safety, the FDA and WHO maintained that only isopropyl alcohol (75% v/v) or ethanol (80% v/v), food-grade glycerin (1.45% v/v), hydrogen peroxide (0.125% v/v), and sterile water could be used in the production of hand sanitizer. The alcohol found in hand sanitizers was recreated to be denatured using one of four formulas recommended by the FDA, but the agency noted that the preferred method involved adding one-sixteenth avoirdupois ounce of denatonium benzoate and a one-eighth gallon of tert-butyl for every 100 gallons of alcohol. Glitter and fragrance should be left out of these products, as they can jeopardize effectiveness and safety.

It's worth noting that federal agencies have a running list of potentially dangerous hand sanitizers that should not be sold or distributed by businesses. These hand sanitizers may contain methanol or 1-propanol as contaminants or impurities, which can be hazardous or even deadly to consumers. Because hand sanitizers can easily be ingested in small amounts due to how these products are applied, it's imperative that manufacturers, distributors, and consumers abide by all health guidance relating to hand sanitizer ingredient use. What's more, the product label design of hand sanitizers needs to contain specific information and follow certain standards such as GHS labeling requirements so that the public can make the best possible decisions about how to protect themselves during the ongoing pandemic.

What Kinds of Product Labeling Requirements Are In Place For Hand Sanitizer?

There are a number of different elements of hand sanitizer product label design that need to be addressed by manufacturers. These include...

Principal Display Panel

Taking up at least 40% of the front of the sanitizer container, this display panel needs to include a statement identity and the net weight of the product (in mL, though some also include fluid ounce measurements), as well as your company's name and logo. The PDP must be large enough to include all mandatory labeling information without obstruction. The net contents of the product displayed must appear within the bottom 30% of the label, though there are specific measurement requirements that depend on the container itself.

Drug Facts Panel

Located on the back of your packaging, the drug facts panel must list in order the title, active ingredients and their purposes, intended product use, warning statements (against improper use or other risks), directions for use, additional information, inactive ingredients, and a questions or comments section. This part of your product label design should feature a single-color font on a contrasting background with legible text of ample space and size. Each section must typically be separated by a horizontal line extending to both ends of the panel and text will typically be left-aligned.

Manufacturer Label

Finally, your product label design should contain the information for your business, including name, address, and contact info. You may need to include the name of the manufacturer, distributor, or packer if your business is not the only one handling these responsibilities.

How Can Businesses Create Compliant and Unique Labels For Hand Sanitizer?

Following regulations for product label design can ensure both public safety and agency compliance. But it's worth noting that you might need more than that to stand out for positive reasons. Since 85% of shoppers say their purchasing decisions are informed by reading product packages while shopping, you'll want to work with a custom label manufacturer to ensure your labels meet all requirements while appealing to consumers on a visual level. Working with experts in product label design can ensure you use the right kind of materials, colors, and types of labels to include all necessary information while maintaining brand consistency and overall allure.

To learn more about how we can help your hand sanitizer products stand out on the shelf and remain compliant with federal regulations during the ongoing pandemic, please contact us today.

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