FDA Charges Craft Distilleries $14000 For Making Hand Sanitizer [UPDATED]

FDA Charges Craft Distilleries $14000 For Making Hand Sanitizer [UPDATED]

FDA Charges Craft Distilleries $14000 For Making Hand Sanitizer [UPDATED]

Craft distilleries pivoted to making hand sanitizer this spring. Now the FDA is charging them $14000 for doing so.

“When the onset of the pandemic led to a massive increase in demand for hand sanitizer this spring, many distilleries stepped up to alleviate the sudden shortage. The main ingredient in sanitizer is ethanol, which they are in the business of making, albeit typically in more fun and tasty formats. More than 800 distilleries pivoted from spirits to sanitizer, offering it for sale or in many cases donating it to their communities free of charge. Their prompt action helped ensure supplies of sanitizer when it was otherwise unobtainable.”

When the shutdowns hit, craft distilleries and breweries had their tasting rooms totally shut down, and a huge source of income (restaurants) dried up overnight. Then, in addition to the Great Toilet Paper shortage, hand sanitizer disappeared. So what did the craft distilleries do? Pivoted to making hand sanitizer. 

Distilleries all over the country stepped up. Not only that, but people could find out which distilleries in their state were producing and find out where to pick up bottles for themselves or others. Here in Colorado, many of the liquor stores started carrying and still carry hand sanitizer made from local breweries. Multiple distillers even donated the hand sanitizer they made to families, to people in health care, and to our first responders. 

This happened wicked fast and helped out a great number of people even though the FDA tried to get in their way by mandating that the alcohol be denatured first. That cost time and money even as it totally wasn’t necessary. 

This pivot by the distilleries was and still is an amazing example of American small business seeing a need and pivoting to fix the problem. Not a single government entity or large corporation can claim to have that ability to turn on a dime. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. The results of Operation Warp Speed have been nothing short of outstanding. However, even those involved can’t claim to have pivoted so swiftly and decisively as American small business did with the hand sanitizer shortage. 

Then, as companies such as Purell got themselves back up to speed, the inventory that craft distilleries had built is now sitting on the shelves. Phil McDaniel of St. Augustine Distillery is a prime example. Currently he has 1,000 gallons of sanitizer and sanitizer ingredients sitting on his shelves. 

“At the same time, the economics of the $3.2 billion craft beverage industry have deteriorated. Craft distilleries are often fragile, mom-and-pop operations with fewer than a dozen employees and their owners’ life savings invested in the business. Now battered by months of lost liquor sales, many cannot afford to spend more on making sanitizer when all they really want to do is get back to making whiskey to survive.

Their conundrum shows how life has become more complicated as the pandemic has persisted. What had been a no-brainer good Samaritan decision to help local communities and nurture a new business has instead devolved into a messy financial calculus as the hardships of the crisis continue piling up.”

Well, the messy financial calculus just got worse thanks to the government jackasses at the FDA. 

Yes folks, that wasn’t a typo in the headline. The FDA has decided to level a $14,000 charge against all 800 breweries and distilleries who stepped up to the plate and made hand sanitizer. No, that $14,000 isn’t spread out among the 800. It is a charge to EACH one of them. And they are supposed to pay up by February 1st. 

Do a good deed and the government decides punishment is necessary. This is especially hurtful and an asinine move given that with the continuation of the lockdowns, craft distilleries stand to lose over $700 million as 2020 ends. That’s a 40% decline in revenue. And the FDA wants to charge each one $14,000??? 

Indeed. How absolutely infuriating that the FDA shoved their collective head up its ass and pulled this move. 

It is absolutely a disgrace. One that should not be allowed to stand. 

American small businesses stepped up to the plate when no one else could. Breweries and craft distilleries churned out thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer. Many did so FREE OF CHARGE. American ingenuity and hard work did this. 

What did the FDA do to help throughout all of this? Not one damned thing other than get in the way. What makes this worse is that some jackass in Congress (probably Pelosi, Schumer, or a Squad member) is responsible for the regulation that the FDA is now using to bludgeon these small businesses. 

“At issue is a provision of the CARES Act that reformed regulation of non-prescription drugs. Under the revised law, distilleries that produced sanitizer have been classified as “over-the-counter drug monograph facilities.” The CARES Act also enacted user fees on these facilities to fund the FDA’s regulatory activities.”

Yes indeed. The CARES Act is shafting small businesses just as 2021 is about to start. Congress and the FDA are to blame for this and it is THEY who should be paying, not American small business. 

UPDATE: Someone at Dept of Health & Human Services caught wind of this issue and moved swiftly to call a halt to these arbitrary fees. 

Feature Photo Credit: Distillery-made alcohol sanitizers by Paulo O via Flickr, cropped and modified

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  • Thomas Moore says:

    Trump would do VERY well to smash this right quick,

  • Kathy says:

    FDA is a bureaucracy. By definition, they are of little if any use. Their purpose is to expand their operation without actually adding any usefulness and hassle their supposed to be customers.

    (Opinion developed with years of direct interaction, now retired.)

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  • GWB says:

    HHS is voiding the fees!

    Somebody with some sense read the coverage and said, “This makes us look soooo bad” and turned it off. It’s a New Years miracle!

  • George V says:

    Good news the fees were reversed. Given the emergency it’s appropriate.

    I have a memory that originally the distilleries could not sell sanitizer because they were not allowed, not approved to produce such products. Maybe the CARES Act made them capable of selling it with the unintended consequence of making the liable to the fine or fee or whatever it is in existing law. This may be a result of good intentions running afoul of the existing laws and regs.

    Doesn’t mean the existing law that requires the fee is totally bad. It may be that’s how that aspect of gov’t is funded, like my fishing license funds the Dept of Natural Resources in my state.

    • GWB says:

      Doesn’t mean the existing law that requires the fee is totally bad.
      Yes, it is. Because it provides for national gov’t interference in something that could be local commerce. Also regulating something that really doesn’t need regulating. The FDA is one of the bigger spiders of the Swamp that is D.C. that needs to be stomped on. Repeatedly.

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