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What the FDA's Ban on Antibacterial Soaps Means For Your FDA Labels

September 19, 2016

Triclosan and triclocarban have been on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) radar for a while. On September 2, the FDA issued a news release to announce the removal of triclosan and triclocarban from all antibacterial soap products, including body washes and hand soaps. Manufacturers will have one year to remove all triclosan and triclocarban-containing products from store shelves or to remove these ingredients from their products. The rule will officially go into effect on September 7, 2017.

The Problem With Triclosan and Triclocarban

In 2013, the FDA issued a rule that required manufacturers of triclosan and triclocarban-containing products to provide the FDA with any helpful information that would deem these ingredients as safe and effective, but the FDA did not receive enough necessary information to recognize these products as safe. These ingredients can actually do more harm than good, and they are no more effective than plain old soap and water.

The ban excludes hand sanitizers, hand wipes, and medical antiseptics. If you use hand sanitizers, the FDA recommends using hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.

In addition to triclosan and triclocarban, the FDA began investigating 17 other ingredients in 2013, and three will continue to be investigated over the next year. The other three ingredients include benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol (PCMX). Antibacterial washes containing these ingredients on FDA labels may remain on store shelves until further notice.

The other recently banned ingredients include: cloflucarban, fluorosalan, hexachlorophene, hexylresorcinol, iodophors (iodine-containing ingredients such as Iodine complex, nonylphenoxypoly, poloxamer, povidone-iodine, and undecoylium chloride iodine complex), methylbenzethonium chloride, phenol, secondary amyltricresols, sodium oxychlorosene, tribromsalan, and triple dye.

What This Means For You

If your products contain triclosan or triclocarban, you will have one year to remove your products from stores and reformulate your product, if you choose to. Approximately 40 percent of soaps contain these two ingredients. Triclosan and triclocarban are two of the most commonly-used products in antibacterial soaps — triclosan is mostly used in liquid soap and triclocarban is mostly used in bar soap.

In one year, it’s possible that you may also need to remove benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and PCMX from your product labels, but stay tuned for updates from the FDA.

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