Irony Defined: Skin sanitizer recalled due to bacterial contamination.

If you’ve got any skin sanitizer products produced by Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory Inc. of Roy, Utah then you may want to throw them out. Seems the FDA has issued a warning that the products are contaminated with bacteria:

Analyses of several samples of over-the-counter topical antimicrobial skin sanitizer and skin protectant products revealed high levels of various bacteria, including some associated with unsanitary conditions, according to the agency. Some of these bacteria can cause opportunistic infections of the skin and underlying tissues and could result in medical or surgical attention as well as permanent damage.

Examples of products that should be discarded include Citrushield Lotion, Dermasentials DermaBarrier, Dermassentials by Clarcon, Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer, Iron Fist Barrier Hand Treatment, Skin Shield Restaurant, Skin Shield Industrial, Skin Shield Beauty Salon Lotion, Total Skin Care Beauty and Total Skin Care Work.

The FDA said its findings, following a recent inspection of the Clarcon facility, are particularly concerning because the products are promoted as antimicrobial agents that claim to treat open wounds and damaged skin and protect against various infectious diseases. The inspection uncovered serious deviations from FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice requirements, the agency said.

Looking at the Clarcon Labs website it doesn’t take long to see these people are selling bullshit products. Take, for example, this description of their Citrushield Lotion:

The CitruShield solution has been developed by professional dermatologists with the purpose of protecting your skin while healing and moisturizing at the same time.  The solution protects the skin by first acting as a Anti-Microbial killing 99.9999 percent of not only germs but, bacteria like MRSA, C-Dif, staphs, gram positive and negative bacteria, germs, salmonella, ecoli, parasites, fungus, molds, and viruses continuously with only one application meaning you don’t need to keep re-applying until your skin exfoliates or until you use harsh soaps.

OK right off the bat we’ve got ridiculous claims and buzzword bingo going on. The 99.9999% claim is pure hype and is clearly false considering the FDA’s findings. I love the bit about how it kills “not only germs but, bacteria…”. Bacteria are microorganisms a.k.a. germs, but that doesn’t stop them from mentioning “gram positive and negative bacteria” later, which is a distinction only meaningful to microbiologists. (If you’re curious, most of the bacteria that are pathogenic in humans are gram negative but there’s a handful that are gram positive.) Then they mention germs again in case you missed it the first time. Germs are, by their very nature, parasites so it seems a little redundant to use that term. The claim that you don’t need to reapply it until your skin exfoliates is odd as you’re constantly exfoliating so how would you know you’ve exfoliated too much and need to reapply?

Additionally CitruShield repells caustic substancers like dirt, grease, oil, glue, paint, acids*, fibers, resins, inks, chemicals, and all similar products out of the skin’s pores; making it possible to remove these substances off of your skin with just a couple drops of water and rubbing your hands together creating friction then rinsing. Finally, as a moisturizer it repairs the acid mantel of your skin and relieves the problems of eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. It sounds impossible but it’s real, just try it and you’ll see how easy it is to keep your hands healthy and clean by using this gentle product.

Since when is dirt caustic? Or grease, oil, fibers, inks, or paint? Some acids and resins, sure, but “chemicals” is a very broad term. In the next sentence it sounds like they suggest washing your hands to get rid of these substances which makes one wonder why you’d need their product. If CitruShield “repells” [sic] acid out of the skin’s pores then how does it repair the skin’s acid mantle?  Not to mention the fact that the only references I can find to the skin’s acid mantle are from questionable dermatology products. It also doesn’t help that they misspell the word as “mantle” which is something you have over your fireplace.

As for the claims that it “relieves the problems of eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.” Well, dermatitis is a very broad term that covers all manner of skin inflammations including eczema, which is ALSO a very broad term, so having both in the same sentence is redundancy for sake of sounding impressive. Moisturizing your skin is a common treatment for a number of different forms of dermatitis, including psoriasis, so if the product actually moisturizes then it may help, but then so would any brand of hand moisturizer. Though the implication in the breathless ad-copy suggests it’s more akin to a cure than just a relief from symptoms.

That was just the first paragraph on that page and the more you read the more the aroma of bullshit will start to invade your nostrils. They go on to suggest that you should use this product in place of standard soap and water in part because “its base is biological and can be killed by using other chemicals” and it’s “better than a regular antibacterial soap, because if your skin is damaged from using other hand cleansers, this product will promote healing of cracks and cuts on your hands.” They don’t bother to mention how it accomplishes all this, you just have to take their word for it. Oh, and the word of the people giving testimonials. You gotta have testimonials for a product like this and, of course, they’re all amazed at how good it is.

And that little asterisk they put next to the word acid in the first paragraph? It points to the following disclaimer:

*There are many types of Acids that are designed to perform certain functions.  Some more caustic and dangerous than others, some that produce extreme gases that can cause illness and even death.  Additionally, each person has different chemistry and can react differently to acids and its gases and should be very careful how they deal with acid.  In as much that Clarcon is not sure how a certain type of acid may be used and in what format nor are they aware of the physical chemistry of each individual it is recommended that you research the type of acid you will be using and how and understand your chemistry and still take precautions against the use of acid.  The miss application of CitruShield or the “wearing off’” of CitruShield could leave you exposed to the effects of acid; therefore Clarcon Biological Chemistry Labs assume no responsibility for injuries that may occur when someone may be exposed to acid as there are too many variables that can take place when dealing with acids and/or improper application of CitruShield.

SEB Translation: If you spread CitruShield all over your naked body and then go swimming in a vat of hydrochloric acid, don’t come crying to us. The fact that you’re stupid enough to buy our products tells us you might be stupid enough to try such a stunt and then sue us.

Wherein I rave about my love for Canon digital products.

I’ve been a big fan of Canon products ever since I purchased a Canon CanoScan N670U flatbed scanner after upgrading to Windows XP. I had an HP scanner prior to that which stopped working after the XP upgrade because HP couldn’t be bothered to make proper drivers for the new OS. After several months of half-assed solutions from HP their tech support suggested I “stop being an asshole and buy a new scanner.” So I did. I bought the Canon. That was in early 2002 and the damned thing still works great some seven years later. When it came time to replace the HP printer we were using we decided to go with the Canon Pixma iP3000 because it had individual ink tanks and a built-in duplexer at a decent price and we were thrilled with it. So when it came time to move up to a decent digital camera we picked up a Canon Powershot A80 back in 2003. Later we added a Canon Pixma MP970 multifunction in part because it had Ethernet networking built-in and we love that too, but that was after the camera.

At the time we bought the camera we allowed the Best Buy sales dude to talk us into one of their four year extended warranties that basically said we could smash the damn thing by accident and bring in the resulting shards for a replacement at no charge. That expired in 2007 without us ever having to make use of it. The camera has worked pretty well over the years even after taking a fairly nasty fall that left the casing near the flash dented, but sometime last year the CCD in the camera started having problems. You’d turn the camera on and the display would look like what you get when you try to watch porn on a scrambled cable channel without a proper decoder box. The image was all distorted and wavy with any resulting pictures looking exactly like the display which told me that it was the CCD and not the LCD display itself. If you turned the camera off and back on again it would sometimes clear up and be usable for awhile, but a couple of months ago it stopped clearing up and is that way all the time now. Six years is a pretty good run for a digital device I’ve used the hell out of so I wasn’t too upset about it and I’ve been looking to replace it with a newer model, probably another Canon, once I see a good deal on one of the bargain hunter websites I prowl.

Then I came across this Consumerist article about someone who got their five year old broken camera replaced by Canon for free that mentioned a recall relating to CCD issues. A little searching found the official Canon website about the recall which listed the A80 as one of the cameras covered by it. They put that out in 2005 so it’s four years old, but I gave the number a call and spoke with a rep who confirmed it’s still in effect. I’ll be getting a prepaid shipping form to send the camera to Canon and they’ll check it out. If it’s definitely the CCD problem listed in the recall it’ll be fixed for free, if it’s something else they’ll tell me how much it would cost to fix it. Can’t ask for much more than that.

We’ve been very happy with the camera as we have been with all the Canon products we’ve bought so far and this will just reinforce my loyalty to the brand. I’ll let you guys know what the verdict is on the camera once they get it and give it a look over, but the fact they’re willing to have it sent to them at no cost to me is pretty cool in itself. Needless to say I recommend the company pretty highly at this point. If you own a Canon camera that is giving you similar trouble you may want to give them a call or check the recall website I listed above to see if it’s something you can get fixed at little to no cost.

Chinese Toy Makers Motives Suddenly Become Clear… Maybe

Nobody is too surprised to hear that there is another recall on Chinese products, toys or otherwise. However, there’s a new twist in the latest one reported by CNN, and it’s not lead:

Millions of toys recalled; contain ‘date rape’ drug
Two U.S. children went into comas after who swallowing Chinese-made Aqua Dots found to contain a chemical that converts into ‘date rape’ drug when ingested.
November 7 2007: 9:04 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP)—Millions of Chinese-made toys have been pulled from shelves in North America and Australia after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a powerful date rape drug when ingested. Two children in the U.S. and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

Yikes.  I guess this is even more reason for me to be glad I don’t have children.

Full CNN Story here