The "antibacterial" soaps that we usually buy in stores and groceries will no longer be sold. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled that "antibacterial" soaps do little or nothing at all to make soap work any better and said the industry has failed to prove that they are safe for consumers.
The latest ruling by the FDA will effectively ban antibacterial soaps and body washes that has certain ingredients from being sold to the public since those questionable ingredients were not proved to be safe and effective for long-term daily use, the FDA said on Friday.
It applies on antibacterial soaps and washes that contain one or more of 19 active ingredients, which includes a chemical known as triclosan and triclocarban which we see in our regular soap. Soap manufacturers will have another year to negotiate over other, less commonly used ingredients such as benzalkonium chloride. However, this rule has no effect on consumer hand sanitizers or antibacterial wipes.
Triclosan used in 93% of liquid products labeled "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial" at least 2,000 different products, according to the FDA.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said,
"Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water. In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term."
Soap companies will have one year to either remove the ingredients or no longer market their products before the final rule is effective (PDF).
The American Cleaning Institute released a statement in response in which it indicated that the FDA had data showing the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps. Manufacturers plan to provide additional science and research to fill any data gaps, according to the statement:
"In the coming year, ACI and its member companies will submit additional safety and effectiveness data on the key ingredients in use in consumer antibacterial soaps today: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol. ... Consumers can continue to use antibacterial soaps with confidence as they have for decades in millions of homes, offices, schools, daycare centers and other commercial settings."
In 2007 a research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that using antibacterial consumer soaps containing triclosan seemed to offer no additional health benefit over using regular soap and water. And continued use for a long period of time may be linked to the propagation of dangerous drug-resistant bacteria.
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