Antibacterial soaps could do more harm than good and don't help with resisting illness any more than conventional soaps.
The Food and Drug Administration has officially banned antibacterial soaps—or, more specifically, 19 ingredients in soaps—after considering it for at least 6 years. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit in 2010 to pressure the FDA to consider regulating antibacterial soaps, to which the FDA finally responded.
In the press release, the FDA said, “Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.”
Though antibacterial soaps have been used for decades, and the FDA has been apparently investigating the safety of one of the most controversial ingredients, triclosan, for even longer, the soaps were never really inspected after they were released.
Triclosan is an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent found in many consumer products, but it was originally only used in hospital settings. Many concerns regarding the agent’s safety, including possible bacterial resistance, disrupted hormonal development, and development of food allergies, have caused consumers to question its widespread, commercial use.
At the end of 2013, the FDA announced that companies selling antibacterial soaps would have to prove that they are more effective than using regular soap by 2016, which the companies weren’t able to do. Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), 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.”
Though this is a huge step toward ensuring the safety of people, other products that contain the ingredients, such as antibacterial washes and toothpastes, are still allowed.
While this ban may set back companies that rely on the antibacterial soap industry, there are other avenues where they can market the value of other products that contain potentially harmful ingredients.
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