Yarmuth calls on FDA to let distillers make sanitizer with current supplies

Photo: Kentucky Distillers' Association

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – On March 24, Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus, called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to immediately clarify their guidelines to allow America’s distilled spirits industry to produce hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays to combat the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Under current guidelines, the FDA allows only denatured alcohol to be used in the production of hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays. America’s distilleries are able to rapidly produce undenatured alcohol and have hundreds of gallons at the ready to manufacture sanitizers and sprays that meet necessary World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control guidelines, but bureaucratic roadblocks at the FDA are preventing distillers from providing this life-saving product to communities, Yarmuth’s office said in a press release.

“As we face this global pandemic, everyday Americans are stepping up to answer the calls of those on the frontlines in our communities in need – and the same goes for America’s distilled spirits producers,” said Yarmuth in the release. “They’ve swiftly worked to begin manufacturing hand sanitizer and other products to ensure the safety of our medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers that are at the forefront of this public health emergency. I have worked with Senate Majority Leader McConnell and other members of the Kentucky delegation to urge the FDA to act immediately. Today, I publicly call on the agency to stop standing in the way of getting these life-saving products to the communities that desperately need them.”

Once the FDA updates its guidelines, Congress can then move to update the tax code to ensure that distiller-produced sanitizers and sprays are not taxed at the rate of alcohol.

For a map of U.S. distilled spirits producers working to manufacture hand sanitizer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States’ website.