FDA wants to know if antibacterial soaps are a wash - FOX Carolina 21

FDA wants to know if antibacterial soaps are a wash

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FDA proposes proof antibacterial soaps really work (Dec. 16, 2013) FDA proposes proof antibacterial soaps really work (Dec. 16, 2013)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

When consumers wash their hands or brush their teeth, they may be using an ingredient called triclosan.

"Now, I try not to use those," Lia Youngblood said.

She said she's read about triclosan before. The ingredient is found on the back of labels of many antibacterial products and some researchers say it kills germs. It can be found in Dial Antibacterial Soap, Colgate Total Breeze, CVS Antibacterial Soap and other products.

"We need to know what we're buying when we buy it," Youngblood said as she looked at the labels in a store in Greenville County. "I think most people do think that's a benefit and that's something they're getting cleaner hands."

However, researchers with the Federal Drug Administration say companies that sell antibacterial soaps and cleaners need to prove their products work. On Monday, administrators with the FDA proposed if companies can't prove antibacterial soaps work then companies should change their labels.

"It should be proven that it does work better in order for them to justify the price," one customer said.

Administrators with the FDA say customers do pay more for antibacterial soaps because companies market them as germ-killing agents. They say consumers use the products because they believe they will prevent them from getting sick.

"I do use some of those, but it seems like that's all there is really on the market," the customer said.

Some researchers also say triclosan could cause problems with hormone levels and allergies.

"The old-fashioned way - soap and water are still the best," Dr. Emmanuel Sarmiento said.

He's an allergist with the Allergic Disease & Asthma Center in Greenville County. He says triclosan doesn't cause allergies, but studies show there's a possible link.

"That maybe overuse of this anti-microbial agents could kill the beneficial as well as the bad bacteria that may affect your immune system," Sarmiento said.

And that's why Youngblood says she's washing her hands of antibacterial products for good.

Executives with the American Cleaning Institute say the disagree with the FDA and have proven over the years antibacterial soaps are effective. However, administrators with the FDA say so far, triclosan has only been proven to be effective when used in toothpaste to fight gingivitis. The FDA is giving companies until December 2014 to provide more information about their products. Administrators say then they'll decide if labels will or will not be changed and will finalize rules by September 2016.

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