Health Ministry rethinking antibacterial soap policy after US ban

Move comes after the US Food and Drug Administration bans triclosan and other anti-bacterial agents found in soap and hand sanitizers.

Soap dispenser (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Soap dispenser
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Health Ministry will decide in the next few weeks whether to adopt the new policy of the US Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the marketing of soaps with triclosan and other anti-bacterial agents. The FDA reached the conclusion that soap and water were better and safer to use over the long term.
Since it became popular to use alcohol gels and various antibacterial soaps, experts in public health have expressed concern. Experts have pushed the agency to regulate antimicrobial chemicals, warning that such products promote drug resistance and even disrupt hormones in youngsters.
The FDA “took action against 19 different chemicals and has given industry a year to take them out of their products,” according to The New York Times. “About 40 percent of soaps – including liquid hand soap and bar soap – contain the chemicals. Triclosan, mostly used in liquid soap, and triclocarban, in bar soaps, are by far the most common,” it said.
“The rule applies only to consumer hand washes and soaps. Other products may still contain the chemicals. At least one toothpaste, Colgate Total, still does, but the FDA says its maker proved that the benefits of using it – reducing plaque and gum disease – outweigh the risks. The agency is also studying the safety and efficacy of hand sanitizers and wipes and has asked companies for data on three active ingredients – alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol), isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride – before issuing a final rule on them,” the paper reported.
Asked to comment, ministry associate director-general Prof. Itamar Grotto, who is an expert in public health, told The Jerusalem Post that it believes using soap and running water is the best way to disinfect hands. In addition, he did not think that use of the products was widespread in this country.
It will take several weeks for the ministry to consider the problem and decide on its policy, he added.