The new antibacterial soap rule
FDA research contradicts long-held assumptions
Their data also suggests that some of the active ingredients used in antibacterial products, such as the triclosan and the triclocarban, can generate health risks with long-term exposure. Those antibacterial soap risks include your body developing bacterial resistance or experiencing hormonal effects.
According to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), one of the concerns is the fact that antibacterial soaps and body washes are frequently and widely used by consumers in nearly every environment – home, work, school, and public settings. Consequently, it collectively amounts to extensive exposure to the ingredients in antibacterial soaps. “We believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using antibacterial soap to balance any potential risk,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the CDER.
The big soap question: Is it “GRASE” enough?
Under the new rule, if it goes into effect, manufacturers may be required to provide the FDA with more data on the efficacy and safety of their antibacterial soaps and body washes, such as clinical study results that demonstrate that these products are not dangerous and are better than non-antibacterial soaps in preventing human illness or reducing infection.
“While the FDA continues to collect additional information on antibacterial hand soaps and body washes, we encourage consumers to make an educated choice about what products they choose to use,” said Sandra Kweder, M.D., deputy director, Office of New Drugs at CDER.
What you can do NOW to protect your family
- Triclosan (used in liquid soaps)
- Triclocarban (commonly used in bar soaps)
So what should you use instead? According to Kweder, “Washing with plain soap and running water is one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others.”
When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a smart second-best choice, especially those that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
What is not included in the antibacterial soap ban
Also, the proposed rule covers only those consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water. The rule does not apply to hand sanitizers, hand wipes or antibacterial soaps that are used in health care settings such as hospitals.
Learn more about proper hand washing and antibacterial soaps
- CDC: Handwashing guidance
- Proposed Rule Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptics
- Over-the-Counter Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products – Antibacterial Hand Soaps and Body Washes
- Consumer Update: FDA Taking Closer Look at ‘Antibacterial’ Soap
- The EPA's most recent assessment of triclosan