Antibacterial soaps have long since become mainstream, now being found in homes, inside hospitals, and at schools across America. Many of the products we buy in bath and body shops nowadays bill themselves as “antibacterial,” but do they really keep us safe or make us healthier? After decades of debate, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a sudden, surprising declaration that they will now be forcing manufacturers of antibacterial soaps to back claims of safety and efficiency with clinical research.
“Due to consumers’ extensive exposure to the ingredients in anti-bacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using anti-bacterial soap to balance any potential risk,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told the Chicago Tribune.
How Does Antibacterial Soap Work vs. Regular Soap?
According to Popular Mechanics, most antibacterial soaps use triclosan and triclocarban to interfere with a protein required to build cell walls of bacteria. The bacteria may grow, but without a cell wall, the structures just fall apart, say scientists. On the other hand, regular soap works by mechanically removing germs, rather than killing them. Soap dislodges the microbes and flushes them down the drain where they can’t attack the skin.
Purell hand sanitizer is not affected by the new FDA announcement because it contains ethyl alcohol, which denatures bacterial proteins in a way that’s generally accepted to be safe and effective.
The FDA argues that “there is currently no evidence that [antibacterial soaps] are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water.”
New Data Implies Antibacterial Soaps Could Be Making Us Ill
Originally, triclosan was designed as a surgical scrub in the 1970s. Today, you can find it in everything from toothpaste to antimicrobial sponges. The FDA has never specifically stated that triclosan is classified as safe or effective for use in these consumer goods. In fact, the EPA regulates triclosan as a pesticide.
Recent studies have suggested that long-term exposure to active ingredients in antibacterial products could lead to:
– Drug-resistant superbugs, and even
– Higher BMIs.
The CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2003-2004 found that three-quarters of Americans had triclosan in their urine. It was also found in breast milk. But the jury’s still out on whether or not this chemical is “safe.” The FDA has been unable to come up with a definitive conclusion — or even reasonable guidelines — since 1972.
Given these findings, companies have a year to prove the merit of their products — or they must change their labels and formulas. FDA analysis estimates it will cost companies $112.2 million to $368.8 million to comply with the new regulations, including reformulating some products and removing marketing claims from others.
Skip Chemicals & Use Clinically-Proven, Natural Antibacterial Agents
We don’t like that all these potentially harmful chemicals are infiltrating our homes. So before you use antibacterial soap to wash your feet, invest in a SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer, which uses UV light to kill bacteria — as well as fungi and viruses. Published clinical studies demonstrate that 99.9% of all harmful microbes are killed within 45 minutes. The shoe bags that accompany our product and the built-in on/off safety feature protect you from contact with any possible UV radiation.
We don’t need marketing gimmicks to sell our antibacterial product. We simply tell people how it is, hand them the data, and let them make up their own minds. Hopefully the malarkey that’s been going on in the antibacterial soap world will come to an end soon.