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FDA pushes for stricter rules on antibacterial soaps

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The FDA is cracking down on soap - antibacterial hand soap and body wash to be specific.

Under a proposed rule announced Monday by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the makers of antibacterial soaps will have to prove their products are more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of infection.

Those manufacturers also will be required to prove their products are safe for long-term use.

The FDA said in a statement, "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 post health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects."

Companies will have had to provide data to support their claims, or else the products will need to be reformulated or relabeled.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research says, "Due to consumers' extensive exposure to the ingredients in antibacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using antibacterial soap to balance any potential risk."

Hand sanitizers, wipes and antibacterial products used in health care settings are not affected.

The action is part of FDA's ongoing review antibacterial active ingredients.

We told you back in September how the CDC released its report saying, the overuse of antibiotics has caused three types of bacteria to become urgent threats to American's health.

That report is the first to put in order of immediate importance, the threats posed by germs and quantifies the toll of superbugs, saying they cause 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year.

For more on that story, click here.

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