B.C. approves boost to hand-sanitizer production

Distillers are donating the excess alcohol or producing products themselves

A bottle of hand sanitizer outlines the placard of Sons of Vancouver Distillery. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the North Vancouver company has been giving out free hand sanitizer, which they’ve been making using a byproject which occurs in the distillation process | Photo Ben Bengtson, North Shore News

B.C. distillers have been approved to temporarily increase production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Attorney General David Eby said March 22.

Until now, distilleries and other licensed manufacturers would have required discretionary authorization from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

Given the current COVID-19 provincial health emergency, all distillers are permitted to producer such products, which must meet certain federal regulatory requirements.

Eby said some distillers are donating excess alcohol from their distilling process to a third party that can produce hand sanitizer, while others are producing it themselves.

“Distillers will be able to donate or sell the hand sanitizer they have manufactured, and the authorization will be reviewed on an ongoing basis as the provincial health context changes,” a government news release said.

"The flexibility shown by distillers to create much-needed hand sanitizing products demonstrates the leadership of B.C.'s agriculture sector and highlights the additional and unforeseen roles that B.C.'s food and beverage producers can play in an emergency response," said Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham. 

Public health officials are reminding the public that the best way to prevent COVID-19 transmission is by thorough handwashing with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds