FDA Warns Against Anti-Bacterial Soap: Can Antibacterial Soap Hurt You or Your Kids or Your Elderly Parent?

FDA Warns Against Anti-Bacterial Soap: Can Antibacterial Soap Hurt You or Your Kids or Your Elderly Parent?

School districts, day care centers, nurseries, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, etc., all have depended upon the use of antibacterial soaps to help care for their charges, whether young or old. Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to consumers in the United States that antibacterial soaps whether in bars or bottles or wipes not only do not do any better job of protection than ordinary soap and water washing but that two particular chemicals in most antibacterial products sold and used in this country (triclosan and triclocarban) may hurt people.

“Antibacterial soaps and body washes are used widely and frequently by consumers in everyday home, work, school, and public settings, where the risk of infection is relatively low,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “Due to consumers’ extensive exposure to the ingredients in antibacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using antibacterial soap to balance any potential risk.”

The Risks of Using Antibacterial Soaps: Triclosan and Triclocarban

First, the FDA warning points out that these two chemicals, triclosan and triclocarban, have unknown benefits — the help that might provide any user of antibacterial soaps and other antibacterial products has never been proven in research studies.

If that were the only concern, then no one should worry. Doing nothing instead of helping someone isn’t good but it isn’t bad.

However, the FDA has reason to believe that these two chemicals may hurt people in more than one way. Which means that people who have been exposed to prolonged use of antibacterial products need to consider the risks to which they have been exposed and the dangers to their health, now and in the future, which may exist because of antibacterial soap products.

Specifically, the FDA’s leading microbiologist, Colleen Rogers, Ph.D. warns that:

(1) antibacterial products may make human beings more resistance to antibiotics in the future, when those antibiotics are needed to fend off bacterial infections and

(2) use of antibacterial products may effect hormones in the human body in ways that are harmful since animal studies have shown triclosan may alter hormones in the body.

Proposed FDA Rule Issued December 16, 2013

Accordingly, the FDA has proposed new federal law in the form of a proposed agency rule that would make U.S. antibacterial soap manufacturers provide lots more information regarding the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps (including body washes) used with water.

The FDA Rule does not apply to antibacterial soaps, sanitizers, or hand wipes that are used without water by health care providers.

For more information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent assessment of triclosan, go here.

Product Liability Issue Here: Caretakers Should Be Aware of FDA Warning Regarding Use of Antibacterial Soaps

The news that the FDA has concerns about the safety of antibacterial soap products is being spread through the national news media, and this is a good thing. The faster the warning spreads, the better.

Those who are responsible for taking care of others, be they infants or toddlers or kids or seniors or the elderly all need to be aware that using these antibacterial soap products not only don’t do more than regular soap and water, they may hurt their charge. Babies, toddlers, elders in care facilities, and other folk should not be exposed to dangerous products by those taking care of them.


For more on dangerous products, see the Kenneth J. Allen Law Group resource page on dangerous products as well as prior blog posts dealing with defective products and product liability issues.

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