Most Antibacterial Soap Ingredients Banned From U.S. by FDA

  • Agency says antibacterial soaps aren’t proven to work better
  • Companies will have a year to remove antibacterial ingredients

The antibacterial ingredients found in many hand soaps will be banned from sale in the U.S. under a new Food and Drug Administration rule meant to curb unintended effects, such as bacterial resistance or affecting hormone levels.

The 19 ingredients banned by the rule, including triclosan and triclocarban, will be prohibited from soaps, but not from hand sanitizers, wipes or products used in health-care settings such as a doctor’s office. Animal studies have show that triclosan alters the way some hormones work, the FDA said.

“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,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s drug division. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long term.”

The FDA is collecting information on hand sanitizers used in health-care settings that contain triclosan, though not all hand sanitizers do. For example, Gojo Industries Inc.’s popular Purell doesn’t use triclosan, rather relies on ethyl alcohol, Samantha Williams, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

The FDA rule finalizes a proposal put forth in 2013. Manufacturers will have a year to comply, according to the rule.

— With assistance by Anna Edney

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