The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday, September 2 that they would be pulling a wide range of antibacterial soaps from the market after manufacturers failed to show that the products were safer or more effective than regular soap.
The federal ban applies to any hand soap or antiseptic wash that includes any of the 19 chemicals the FDA has specified, including triclosan (found in antibacterial hand soap) and triclocarban (found in bar soaps).
Soap manufacturers will have one year to either reformulate their soap products so that they do not include these chemicals or pull their soap products from the market completely.
Scientists have found that the chemicals tricolsan and other antimicrobial soap chemicals may actually pose more risks than benefits to the consumers, according to reports by Ars Technica.
The FDA officially ruled on the ongoing dispute on Friday morning. Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) issued a statement following their decision.
“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.”
Soap’s chemical formulation has been in question for quite a while. Back in 2013, the FDA proposed the ban on soaps originally and called for all soap manufacturers to submit data that would prove that the soap’s chemical compounds were both harmless and more efficient for ridding humans of germs than regular soap.
Due to the recent ruling, the FDA recommends that consumers go on washing their hands with just plain soap and water to avoid picking up germs and getting sick.
“…one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.”
The ban on antibacterial soaps does not include alcohol-based hand sanitizers or wipes. However, the FDA is reviewing those products separately.
Theresa Michele, the FDA’s director of the division of nonprescription drug products, said that this ban will affect a large number of soap manufacturers, as the “vast majority of the thousands of soap products on the market contain at least one of the 19 affected ingredients.”
Michele claimed that the FDA had asked soap manufacturers for data proving that the long-term use of the antibacterial soaps was safe and effective but had failed to do so, according to the Washington Post.
The American Cleaning Institute issued a statement arguing that the company had submitted the requested data to the FDA.
“The FDA already has in its hands data that shows the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps.
“Manufacturers are continuing their work to provide even more science and research to fill data gaps identified by FDA.”
The American Cleaning Institute also claims that the antibacterial soaps and washes “continue to be safe and effective products for millions of people every single day.”
Ken Cook, the co-founder and president of the Environmental Working Group, praised the FDA’s decision.
“This decision by the FDA is a huge victory on behalf of human health and the environment.”
The environmental group had been pushing for such actions against soap manufacturers for more than a decade.
Theresa Michele, of the FDA, said that manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble have already taken steps to phase out the use of some of the banned chemicals.
The FDA has found that the 19 now-banned chemicals used in soap can be harmful and pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance and hormonal effects, with long-term exposure.
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