FDA Demands Proof Antibacterial Soaps Are Safe and Actually Work

Attention germaphobes: The L.A. Times reports that the FDA just announced it'll soon be placing new restrictions on the labeling of supposed "antibacterial soap."

Going forward, the country's body-wash barons will be required to prove their stuff is a) safe and b) more effective than basic old bar soap. If they don't, they'll have to relabel the lot—or even change the way it's made entirely.

"New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits," says a lead FDA microbiologist. They're very likely fostering the development of tougher bacteria, and then there's the possibility of "unanticipated hormonal effects" from the chemicals triclosan and triclocarban. The L.A. Times explains:

In animals, exposure to high concentrations of these compounds has been found to suppress thyroid hormone concentrations and to have estrogenic effects, including premature puberty in females and low sperm count in males. As the chemicals have been found in human breast milk, urine and blood, there is growing concern that the product's widespread use may affect human health as well.

In other words, it might be a good day to run out and buy a soap dish and a bar of Irish Spring. The new rules don't apply to hand sanitizers, though, so your Purell is safe—for now.

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