FDA Seeks Tighter Controls over Antibacterial Soap
Like it says in its name, antibacterial soap is supposed to kill germs and reduce people's chances of getting an infection. Despite the label, a new study conducted by the federal government is reporting that there is no evidence that these soaps can prevent germs from spreading. Furthermore, the data, which encompasses more than 40 years of study, suggest that antibacterial soap could inflict harm.
Based on the results of the study, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to examine the safety of using the chemicals, such as triclosan, in antibacterial soap. Triclosan has been linked to negatively affecting hormone levels and promoting the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Triclosan can be found in roughly 75 perent of all antibacterial liquid soaps and body washed. The ingredient can be found in roughly 93 percent of bar soaps.
"The FDA is finally making a judgment call here and asking industry to show us that these products are better than soap and water, and the data don't substantiate that," said Stuart Levy of Tufts University School of Medicine according to the Washington Post.
Now, the FDA will require all manufacturers to justify the safety of their antibacterial soaps and body washes by providing reliable evidence. By 2016, products that still do not have evidence that they are safe to use will not be sold on the market until they are reformulated or relabeled. The FDA believes that this new requirement will cost companies anywhere from $112.2 million to $368.8 million The policy does not apply to hand sanitizers, which use alcohol and not antibacterial chemicals to kill germs.
"I suspect there are a lot of consumers who assume that by using an anti-bacterial soap product they are protecting themselves from illness, protecting their families," said Sandra Kweder, deputy director in the FDA's drug center. "But we don't have any evidence that that is really the case over simple soap and water."
The FDA press release is available here.