peracetic acid

Please, Don’t — Beer Industry Mistakes Hit Harder During COVID-19 Pandemic

Disinfectant Versus Hand Sanitizer
Disinfectant Versus Hand Sanitizer

From an Article, “Words by Kate Bernot“, March 30, 2020, reported:

As the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout foment anxiety in the beer industry, moments of generosity have peeked through the darkness. Drinkers have spent lavishly to help local breweries. Small businesses have banded together to seek financial relief from lawmakers. Communities have pledged money to GoFundMes for hospitality staff in need.

But there have also been missteps among quick decisions and snap reactions. Previously innocuous actions like shopping at a grocery store or leaving a Yelp review are imbued with moral weight. Every discrete movement affects neighbors. People’s safety, self-sufficiency, and economic futures are on the line.

Such mistakes can at the least act as cautionary tales during a trial-and-error time when everyone’s just figuring shit out.

Not Peracetic Acid

On March 19, Bradenton, Florida’s Darwin Brewing Company posted photos and a message to its Facebook page: “We have sanitizer! Darwin Brewing is canning and giving away six packs of sanitizer in light of the shortage.” The post went on to say that the sanitizer is Perasan A (“NOT a hand sanitizer)” and the solution was diluted before canning.

Diluted or not, the liquid poses dangers. The American Industrial Hygiene Association states that peracetic acid, a key component of Perasan A, is highly irritating to skin and that acute exposure can cause a variety of respiratory problems.

The chemical wasn’t put in squirt bottles like other hand sanitizers—the Facebook post showed it being packaged in the brewery’s lager beer cans. One photo posted online showed a can with a note taped to its top: “HAND SANITIZER. DO NOT DRINK!”

If that wasn’t enough confusion, what the brewery didn’t clarify was that Perasan A is an industrial sanitizer containing peracetic acid (PAA), hydrogen peroxide, and acetic acid. A brewery employee told The Sarasota Post the sanitizer could be used for “household surfaces, doorknobs, countertops…. all hard surfaces.”

A day later, another post stated that the brewery cancelled future giveaways due to overwhelming demand. Then, further updating their Facebook Page with this Disclaimer: “****Disclaimer****Our sanitizer is Peresan “A” (Diluted before canning) can be used to sanitize household surfaces. It is NOT a hand sanitizer. This sanitizer is diluted with carbon filtered and uv before being purged and going through our Canning line. The Sanitizer is Peresan “A” and will have an effective shelf life of 72 hours. Contact us if you have any questions about how to store and use the product.”

The act was coming from a place of earnestness, but also revealed some naivete. Packaging an industrial cleaner in beer cans creates a real risk that a person could accidentally ingest the substance, which could kill them. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s database of hazardous chemicals, the probable human oral lethal dose of PAA is between 1 teaspoon and 1 ounce for a 150-pound person.

A day after Darwin’s first post about the sanitizer, the Brewers Association trade group issued its industry guidelines for sanitization during COVID-19. They stated, in part, that “sanitizers used in beer production are not appropriate for bar and kitchen sanitation” and that industrial sanitizers including PAA and chlorine dioxide “cause adverse skin reactions, and can induce respiratory distress.” The BA’s Safety Subcommittee recommends they not be used for front-of-house sanitation.

Other breweries and distilleries have found ways to support the ramping up of hand sanitizer production; Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo have both pledged to ship neutral alcohol from their plants around the country. Maumee Bay Brewing Company in Toledo, Ohio; Brickway Brewery & Distillery in Omaha, Nebraska; Brewdog’s Aberdeen plant in the U.K.; Chicago’s infamous Malort producer; and many others have pledged the same.

Additional reporting for this story courtesy of Bryan Roth and Jonny Garrett, and can be found on

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