After more than half a decade of various proposals, investigations, and dithering, the FDA today has announced that it’s changing the rules. 19 active ingredients in your hand soap — most notably including triclosan, until recently very common — are going to be heading off the market.
Starting next Tuesday, a whole bunch of stuff is losing its designation of Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective (sound familiar?) and can no longer be marketed to you for this purpose, the FDA announced today.
The rule specifically pertains to soap — products “intended for use with water, and rinsed off after use.” That means it doesn’t apply to hand sanitizers, wipes, or other products (like toothpaste). It also doesn’t apply to industrial-strength, commercial products used in health care settings.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
The wheels on this one have been turning for many years, but not exactly quickly.
It’s been six years since the FDA’s 2010 determination that there was no actual evidence proving triclosan actually made your bathroom hand soap any more effective.
After that it was another three years before the FDA announced in 2013 that it was going to review triclosan and find out if it was at all safe or effective.