On September 2nd, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that soap companies must remove antibacterial ingredients from their products. They will have one year from the date of the ruling to do so. The ruling comes as the result of soap manufacturers reportedly having failed to prove that antibacterial products are any more effective in cleaning than regular soaps. (Related Topics: Florida Food Handlers Certificates, Florida Food Handlers Card, Florida Food Handler Certification)
An FDA director recently told NBC that despite what advertisers may want you to believe, in reality there’s absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that antibacterial soap is any safer or more effective than plain old regular soap and water. In fact, in some cases it can even do more harm than good.
For years companies have used the antibacterial aspect of their products as an advertising tool to sell soap, marking up prices for their products. It’s now a $1 billion industry. Written across the sides of soap and detergent bottles across the nation were variations of the phrase Kills 99% of bacteria. The only problem was what happens to the remaining 1%.
Over time, studies began to show that whatever bacteria managed to survive had the potential to develop immunity to the soap. Ultimately, that’s actually counterproductive to the entire purpose of the soap in the first place.
This past month were the 2016 Olympics games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where experts vehemently warned athletes against entering the water due to the contamination of the city’s river. Rio’s river was reportedly filled with antibiotic resistant super bacteria that could potentially cause athletes to fall fatally ill if exposed.
This phenomenon did not happen in a vacuum. While the United States’ water supply is not as contaminated as Brazil’s, the issue still highlights the growing concern over antibiotic resistant bacteria. This largely come as the result of the mass distribution of products containing antibacterial ingredients.
It makes sense at first glance to want to kill bacteria. People wash their hands to rid their bodies of dangerous germs. But this antibacterial trend spread the misconception that bacteria is synonymous with germs. In reality, bacteria is but one of four different kinds of germs. The others are fungi, viruses, and protozoa. But the antibacterial aspect took away attention from the other three.
In addition to the fact that manufacturers have been swindling customers on a false notion, researchers also suspect that the antibacterial ingredient triclosan may cause thyroid hormone problems, based on studies with adolescent animals. There’s still no evidence that the chemical would have the same effect on humans, but the FDA decided to act proactively and prevent further use until more studies are performed.
So the next time you’re handling food and it’s time to wash your hands (which you should be doing constantly whenever handling food professionally), do yourself a favor and hold off on that antibacterial stuff. A normal bottle of soap will do just fine.
For information on how to become a certified Florida food handler, contact Ken Kuscher at 561-703-7196 for an immediate response with tips and all necessary registration information.