FDA: Antibacterial soaps do not prevent germs from spreading...and may pose health risks

Created: 12/16/2013 11:33 PM WHEC.com
By: Joangel Concepcion

When you use antibacterial soap, you usually think you're clean and germ-free, right?

Well now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is saying it has no evidence the antibacterial chemicals used in the soap prevent germs from spreading. The agency is also saying the chemical may even pose health risks.

Many researchers have been saying for quite some time that antibacterial soaps are ineffective and, at worst, a threat to public health. The government is lending support to that theory. The FDA announced Monday that there is no evidence antibacterial soaps work better than soap and water. The recent study suggests the main ingredients found in the soap - triclosan and triclocarbon  - may actually interfere with hormone levels and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

The FDA is asking the soap industry to show them proof. They want evidence these products are killing germs like the companies have marketed.

We talked to an infection prevention specialist who was not surprised by the FDA's ruling.

"I think that the antibacterial soap definitely can give people this false sense of security that they are doing better for their families by using antibacterial soap," said Donna Farnsworth, Director of Infection Prevention at Unity Health. "If they are washing their hands well with soap and water, then they are good."
The FDA is saying manufacturers will have to do clinical trails and prove their products are beneficial and safe for long term use. The agency will give the companies one year to do so. Then, it will finalize the ruling.

The ruling does not apply to antibacterial hand sanitizers. Most of those gels use alcohol rather than antibacterial chemicals.


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