Alcohol-based sanitizer increasingly used as a spirit

About 10 years ago, around SARS, a public health friend in Toronto said that hospitals were having trouble keeping sanitizer units filled in public wards and emergency rooms. Seemed that people with an alcohol dependency and little cash were stealing and drinking it. Around the same time I was told a similar story about stuff missing from a farmer’s hygiene tool storage area: When the temporary labor left the farm, so did the sanitizer. skin-eating-bacteria-infection-MRSA-hand-sanitizer-hospital-RM-DO-NOT-REUSE-298x232

Last year Alberta health folks changed their policies around providing hand sanitizer following the death of a man in an RCMP cell who was suspected of ingesting some, along with anti-depressants, while at a hospital.

According to Perez Hilton, a Pennsylvania man copped to being a repeat acquirer of large amounts of free sanitizer for drinks.

A man in Pennsylvania has admitted to stealing 12 bottles of hand sanitizer from the UPMC Hospital in Altoona.

The man, 51-year-old Lee Ammerman, was caught because an employee saw him stealing a bottle in October when he tried to hide it in an arm sling AND then recognized him doing it again in December!

BUT, get this, when confronted by cops about stealing the sanitizer, Lee didn’t even deny it!

In fact, he confessed to what he was actually using it for! (why so many exclamation marks? -ben)

He said: “I mix the liquid with orange juice.”

With the increase in publicly-available alcohol-based sanitizer comes the unintended consequence of being a target for theft.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.