FDA warns about antibacterial soaps - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

FDA warns about antibacterial soaps

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The flu shot and good hygiene are your best defenses against getting sick. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Monday antibacterial soaps may be doing more harm than good.

Officials said they could scrub the products from store shelves.

And moms in Charlotte are paying attention.

Moms at Freedom Park do what they can to keep their kids healthy.

"That's the first defense against germs. You come back from school, you come back from anywhere you wash your hands," said Shweta Mehta.

"Especially with little ones and this guy who gets into everything," said Bonnie Robinson, "We got to keep clean and try to have as much antibacterial as possible."
But the FDA said there's no evidence that the anti-bacterial chemicals used in soaps are better than plain soap and could pose a threat to public health.

The FDA is requiring the companies that produce the antibacterial soaps to prove the safety and effectiveness of the products or they could be removed from the market.

Triclosan is the chemical raising the concern. Moms don't necessarily know the name. But this Mehta said she's been wary about using antibacterial products for quite some time.

"I've read enough and there's been enough controversy with antibacterial and I think we use too much of antibacterial products around us which doesn't help us a whole lot," said Mehta, "In the long run it's doing us more harm than good."

Studies have shown triclosan has had disturbing health affects in animals.

The chemical doesn't necessarily affect humans the same way, but there is also concern about the increase in drug-resistant bacteria or super bugs.

Bonnie Robinson said she'll do what's best for her 5-month-old triplets and 2-year-old son, Jackson.

"In theory I'm just trying to protect my children keep them from any kind of germs," said Robinson, "So, I guess if it's counter-productive. I'll have to see what the research says."

The anti-bacterial industry includes more products besides soaps. But for now the FDA is targeting hygiene products.

The American Cleaning Institute is an association of companies that represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products market. 

"We intend to file comments to FDA reaffirming that the use of antibacterial wash products in the home environment does not contribute to antibiotic or antibacterial resistance," a spokesperson told WBTV.

"The ingredients used in antibacterial soap and washes have been evaluated and regulated by agencies and scientific bodies around the world.  In some instances, these products have been found to be critical in the reduction of infection and disease."

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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