SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — When the COVID-19 pandemic began, hand sanitizers across the country started flying off store shelves.
This lead to a shortage and prompted businesses all over to start producing it themselves. While that’s sparked concern… with some sanitizers containing toxic chemicals– a business right here in KELOLAND has found a way to fill a need and make it safely.
“This is a big company, but if you want to look at flexible, innovative, nimble, this is the company to look at. When our country really, really needed a hand sanitizer POET figured out how to make it work,” Dusty Johnson said.
U.S. Congressman Dusty Johnson is applauding ethanol-maker POET in the company’s quick response to a nationwide shortage of hand sanitizer.
Soon after the need appeared, President and COO, Jeff Lautt says the company began producing the product right here in South Dakota.
“I mean, from a kernel of corn in the fields here in South Dakota, it comes into our biorefinery processed into fuel-grade ethanol. We then further process that into the specification for the industrial ethanol require for the sanitization. And then we further packaged that up into a finished sanitizer product. That’s pretty neat,” Lautt said.
Extensive planning and research has gone into the production, making sure the sanitizer is safe.
“There’s been a lot of, I would say counterfeit products out there that have methanol in them. So you need to watch out for that,” Greg Breukelman said.
President of POET nutrition Greg Breukelman says methanol can lead to severe health issues, including blindness.
With FDA regulations met and safety at the forefront, the company is now expanding its production with a gel form.
“We produce the ethanol down in Scotland. We’ve been doing the bottling here locally with a partner, and now we’re looking at how we scale that up. So we’re pretty excited about doing that and meeting a need. And now a long term opportunity, right from corn that’s produced here in South Dakota and processed in our facilities,” Lautt said.
And now people in KELOLAND can walk into a store and purchase hand sanitizer like this, in both liquid and gel form.
“I saw this at a grocery store and I picked up this bottle. And on the back, it doesn’t say made in China. It says right there, manufactured by POET, Sioux Falls, South Dakota,” Johnson said.
To take a look at the list of unsafe sanitizers containing methanol from the FDA, click here.