Labatt retools beer production and starts making hand sanitizer instead

Labatt Breweries is retooling its beer-making facilities to make 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer as it joins the global effort to combat COVID-19.

The beer giant will make 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer at its production facilities across Canada

The Labatt brewery in London, Ont., is one of several across the country that will start making hand sanitizer.

Labatt Breweries is retooling its beer-making facilities to brew up to 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer as it joins the global effort to combat COVID-19. 

The effort will include facilities in London, Ont., Edmonton, Montreal, Vancouver and the Mill Street Beer Hall in Toronto. 

The initial production of 50,000 bottles will be donated to Food Banks of Canada, front line workers, and those in the bar and restaurant industry who are serving take-out meals. 

"This is a national crisis like we haven't seen in our lifetimes and we feel an obligation to do everything we can to help through our Disaster Relief Program," said Charlie Angelakos, Labatt's vice-president of legal and corporate affairs. 

"Our goal is to get this much needed sanitizer into the hands of those who need it most, especially individuals on the front lines serving their communities as we all pull together."

The brewery will follow the guidelines established by the World Health Organization, Angelakos said, and is working on how to distribute the hand sanitizer safely. 

Chris Hatch, CFO of Food Banks Canada, said he's grateful for the donation of hand sanitizer. 

"It's times like these when organizations like ours need more support than ever to assist the devoted food bankers on the ground helping those vulnerable people in our communities," Hatch said. 

This isn't the first time the beer maker has retooled its production to help in a crisis. It has produced cans of clean drinking water a dozen times during disasters, such as the Fort McMurray, Alberta, wildfires in 2016. 

It's the first time the company is making something other than clean water under its disaster relief program, which was established in 2012. 

Labatt Brewery in London, Ont. keeps an emergency supply of potable water to ship free of charge to disaster stricken communities in Canada that have had their water supply compromised. (Colin Butler/CBC News)