The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) announced on Dec. 15 that almost 140,000 liters of dangerous sanitizer which originated from Turkey have been seized in several EU countries for contamination with dangerous levels of methanol.
The OLAF said that methanol can cause headaches, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, loss of coordination, and a decreased level of consciousness. It also has a direct toxic effect on the optic nerve, and ingestion can lead to blindness.
The organization started the operation in August after Danish authorities passed on information relating to the seizure of 6,000 liters of hand sanitizer from Turkey.
After relaying the information to other EU member states, the OLAF spotted a suspicious shipment to Ireland at the end of September.
“Irish authorities promptly intercepted the suspicious cargo in Dublin Port. Several samples analyzed by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) confirmed unacceptably high levels of methanol. The same happened with a second shipment,” the organization said.
The investigation later revealed that several companies in different EU countries had ordered hand sanitizers from the same Turkish manufacturer which operates under various names.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, OLAF has been active in fighting illicit material related to COVID-19 such as counterfeit and substandard face masks, rapid tests, hand sanitizers," said OLAF director-general Ville Itälä.
“These products should protect people, not harm them. OLAF investigations have detected over 900 companies involved so far, and the list is growing.”