Sen. Chuck Grassley

Iowa’s two U.S. senators are asking the Food and Drug Administration to clarify its policies on making alcohol-based hand sanitizer during the pandemic.

Iowa ethanol producers were initially given the go ahead to use some of their ingredients to make sanitizer, but Senator Chuck Grassley says the FDA later changed its guidelines. Now, it’s unclear if ethanol can be used in the process.

“Ernst and I want clarification from FDA so that people that are involved in this good faith effort to help out during the pandemic,” Grassley says. “I’d suggest they can’t be making much money at it, just a good faith effort.”

Ethanol producers got involved with the sanitizer to both provide a valuable commodity during the health crisis and also to have a marketable product, since fuel sales dropped dramatically with so many people staying home.

Grassley says the FDA’s revision of guidelines left many in the industry mystified about what standards need to be met for hand sanitizer. “We’re in a situation where there’s questionable activity going on but that nobody has ill intent,” Grassley says. “We’re trying to clarify things so that people can continue to do their good work in good faith and not get in trouble for it.” As the economy slowly reopens, Grassley notes the need will continue to grow for hand sanitizer at schools, restaurants, churches, factories, and other locations.

Iowa is the nation’s number-one biofuel producer with 43 ethanol plants and 11 biodiesel plants supporting 43,000 jobs throughout the state’s economy.