FDA warning for hand sanitizer in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico's government sent inspectors across the island Thursday to stop stores from selling locally produced hand sanitizers tainted with a dangerous bacteria.

The products were made by Puerto Rico Beverage Inc. of Maunabo. A recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection of the plant found serious problems with manufacturing practices.

Puerto Rican officials said the company closed the plant after the inspection and the whereabouts of company executives had not been determined.

The U.S. Caribbean territory's consumer affairs secretary, Luis Rivera Marin, said the company was one of many in Puerto Rico that rushed into the sanitizer business as demand soared during the swine flu pandemic.

He said the now-shuttered plant had been dedicated primarily to making juice. "Maybe they were making passion fruit juice one day and the next day they made hand sanitizers in the same container," Rivera said.

The FDA warned Wednesday that the company's "Bee-Shield Hand Sanitizer" with aloe vera and "MD Quality Hand Sanitizer" contain high levels of the Burkholderia cepacia bacteria, which can cause harm when used on skin with cuts or abrasions. The agency said infections caused by the microbe could require surgery.

The two sanitizers were distributed to supermarkets, drug stores and hospitals only in Puerto Rica. Officials said the products had not been blamed for any illnesses.

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