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As a long time protester of antibacterial soap, it’s exciting to see that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also having some doubts about products that claim to be antibacterial. In an announcement this week, the FDA has said that they’re placing the burden of proof on antibacterial soap manufacturers. The FDA says that these manufacturers must be able to show that not only are their soaps better germ killers than plain old soap and hot water, but they must also prove that their soaps are safe for the long-term. In a statement, the FDA notes, “Millions of Americans use antibacterial hand soap and body wash products [but] there is currently no evidence that they are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. Further, some data suggests that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products — for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) — could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.” Color me shocked that the FDA has actually admitted that triclosan is harmful and that plain old soap and water is the best method for hand washing!
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In light of current data that shows antibacterial soaps may not kill more germs and may not be safe, the FDA has issued a proposed rule that will require manufacturers to provide more substantial data to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps. The proposed rule covers consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes not hand sanitizers, hand wipes or antibacterial soaps used in health care settings. Because around 2,000 various products contain these possibly harmful antibacterials, the FDA has a big job ahead, sorting out the issue. But as a consumer, you can weigh in with your own opinions. As the FDA makes some decisions surrounding labeling of antibacterial soap products, they’re encouraging consumers, clinicians, environmental groups, scientists, industry representatives and others to discuss and weigh in on the proposed rule and the data it discusses. The comment period extends for 180 days. Once the proposed rule is posted, you can leave a comment for the FDA. Before you weigh in, you may want to brush up on why antibacterials are so harmful and why you shouldn’t freak out so much about germs via the links below.
- ‘Super Germs’ Threaten to Erase a Century of Medical Advances
- Canada Declares Antibacterial Soap Chemical Triclosan Toxic to the Environment
- HOW TO: Eco-Wash Your Hands Properly
- The CDC recommends plain soap and water in most circumstances
- Dirt and Germs Equal Happy and Healthy Kids