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FDA asks antibacterial soap makers to prove claims on labels

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Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked that makers of antibacterial soap prove their claims that it’s any better than plain soap and water; the newly proposed rule won’t take effect until next summer. The FDA wants the soap makers to prove that these products are also safe for long-term use. There are over 2,000 of these products on the market currently, and long-term use hasn’t been proven safe, according to information from CNN.

Many antibacterial soap makers say that their product prevents the spread of germs, but there isn’t any scientific data that proves those claims.

The FDA said this in a statement Monday:

"Millions of Americans use antibacterial hand soap and body wash products. Although consumers generally view these products as effective tools to help prevent the spread of germs, there is currently no evidence that they are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water.”

“Further, some data suggest that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products -- for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) -- could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects."

Some studies with rats show a decrease in thyroid hormones levels with long-term use of antibacterial soap, but human studies are very difficult to prove.

The FDA is asking that the makers of antibacterial soap (includes hand soaps and body washes) to prove the claims they are making on their labels. If they cannot, then the labels must be changed or the product must be removed from the market.

The deadline for the new rule will be June 2014 and then antibacterial soap makers will have until December 2014 to submit their data and study information to the FDA.

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