The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has insisted that manufacturers of antibacterial soaps show that their products are both safe for long-term use and more effective than plain soap and water. If manufacturers fail to do so, they will have to reformulate or relabel their products.
According to the FDA, some research suggests that long-term use of ingredients like triclosan in antibacterial liquid soap or triclocarban in antibacterial bar soap may cause negative health effects. Experts have said that the ingredients could contribute to antibacterial resistance and the development of allergies, and may even interfere with normal hormonal function. Triclosan can be found in approximately 75% of anti-bacterial soaps and body washes sold in the U.S. According to The New York Times, some “deodorant” soaps may also contain the concerning ingredients.
The agency said that the move was prompted by “the widespread consumer use of antibacterial products, the accumulated scientific information and concerns raised by health care and consumer groups.” The FDA also stated there was limited evidence that antibacterial soaps are more effective at preventing illness than using non-bacterial soap and water. The new rule would not affect hand sanitizers or wipes.
The soaps will not need to be pulled off of shelves immediately; rather, the companies will need to conduct clinical studies to prove the soaps’ safety. If not proven safe, the active ingredients will need to be removed. The rule is open for public comment for 180 days and manufacturers will have a year to submit the required information. USA Today reported that the government agency hopes to have a final ruling by 2016.