Millions of Americans are convinced that antibacterial soap is more effective in combating harmful bacteria responsible for sickness like the common cold, but the FDA says that most Americans are unwittingly being fooled by antibacterial soap companies.
The FDA proposed regulations Monday that would force antibacterial soap manufacturers to put their money where their mouth is and show that their product are actually battling sickness-inducing bacteria better than the average soap and water. Even worse than the allegations of inefficacy, FDA officials are saying that antibacterial soap when used over time can actually be dangerous for the consumer.
Exposure to the chemical triclosan in liquid soaps has been shown to pose some serious health risks, most notably hormonal effects. There is also evidence to support that antibacterial soap could actually make bacteria more resistant to antibiotics, leaving consumers still sick even after using antibiotics and medication.
Exempt from the rules are antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and hand wipes used in hospitals and medical fields. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the “over the counter” antibacterial soaps you find in your everyday pharmacy may contain these harmful chemicals responsible for hormonal changes and medication tolerant bacteria.
While the measures may not snatch these products from the grocery store aisles just yet, if approved, manufacturers will be forced to provide the evidence of their claims or see their product be reformulated or relabeled. If passed this policy towards antibacterial soaps promises to reshape the pharmacy aisle, where there are literally dozens of companies which sell supposed antibacterial soaps.
The FDA says it will be soliciting public opinion on the proposal for the next 180 days, and following the ruling, companies will have less than a year to hand over their data and manufacturing information.
Observers and scientists say the move is a beneficial one for the consumer, who up until this point, thought they were purchasing a literal antibacterial product that would protect them from bacteria.
Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council Mae Wu said “This is a good first toward getting unsafe triclosan off the market… FDA is finally taking concerns about ticlosan seriously,”
The first warning bells rang about the dangers of triclosan date back to 1978, when the FDA proposed banning the harmful chemical. For no particular reason, the FDA never followed through with their proposal and officials now say an overwhelming majority of antibacterial soaps currently on the market contain triclosan.
Triclosan is a chemical used in many toothpastes and mouthwashes, as well as pesticides. The FDA has worked side by side with the Environment Protection Agency to ensure that the regulation of triclosan is uniform across the agencies.
While it may be no surprise to most consumers that product manufacturers embellish or exaggerate their products worth, many are shocked to find out that some of them are outright lying to the consumer.
For now consumers will weigh in on the proposal while manufacturers scramble to fight the proposal. Until then, most Americans may have been fooled by antibacterial soaps once, but the FDA hopes these new measures will prevent such a continued charade from manufacturers.