Hand washing is a routine concept to us and a part of our daily routine. It is also a crucial component to good hygiene and proper healthcare techniques. When you go to the store and pick up soap, do you have a preference? Do you choose a brand based on scent, color, container shape or size? Or do you select a brand of soap based on antibacterial properties?
Earlier this month, on September 2, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established that antibacterial soaps, hand washes and antibacterial body washes containing one or more active ingredients from a list of 19 ingredients are no longer deemed Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective (GRAS/GRAE). The full list can be reviewed below:
- Iodophors (Iodine-containing ingredients)
- Iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate)
- Iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol)
- Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine
- Poloxamer—iodine complex
- Povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent
- Undecoylium chloride iodine complex
- Methylbenzethonium chloride
- Secondary amyltricresols
- Sodium oxychlorosene
- Triple dye
From this list, two of the most commonly found ingredients in antibacterial products are listed, Tricolcarban and Triclosan. This ruling has been finalized after the FDA reviewed data that suggested long –term use and exposure from using such ingredients found in antibacterial products could pose risks to one’s health including bacterial resistance and/or hormonal effects. If a manufacturer decides to continue the use of any of the ingredients, they will be required to provide data on the safety and effectiveness of their product as compared and demonstrated against the superiority to a non-antibacterial wash such as plain soap and water. Plain soap and water has been proven to be more effective in preventing illness and reducing infection and is one of the most important steps one can take to avoid getting sick and stop the spread of germs.
Hand sanitizer is not effected by this ruling and is still recommended when plain soap and water is not available. The best choice is one that is alcohol based with at least 60 percent alcohol, as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Within one year, manufacturers are required to comply and remove any of the ingredients from the list above from their formula.
Take note of the soap you have in your bathrooms or kitchen and see what changes take place over the next few months. What ingredients will be removed or replaced? What will you replace your old soap with? Will you be making a change or have you been using bar soap this whole time?