Last week, the FDA announced a major victory for our health and wellness—the agency banned the use of triclosan in soaps, specifically those marketed as antibacterial, which make up a whopping 40 percent of the total soap market and 90 percent of all antibacterial soaps.
The agency said in its decision that the soap industry had “failed to prove [triclosan-containing soaps] were safe,” reports the New York Times.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, has been linked to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a major health concern for consumers, specifically as these types of infections are on the rise—a result in large part due to animal agriculture, which laces animal feed with antibiotics (to stimulate animal growth, among other things).
But it has also been implicated in endocrine disruption—a growing concern as endocrine-altering substances are found in so many daily-use products already. Triclosan has also been connected to an increased risk of allergies and issues in the microbiome, as triclosan has been linked to disrupting gut bacteria.
The FDA’s decision pointed to good old-fashioned soap and water as just as effective—if not more so—than soaps containing triclosan. And ordinary soap doesn’t run the risk of contributing to the antibiotic-resistant bacteria problem.
“In all the F.D.A. took action against 19 different chemicals and has given industry a year to take them out of their products,” reports the Times.
But the ruling doesn’t mean triclosan is banned from all products—in fact, it’s still allowed in soaps, just not those marketed specifically as antibacterial hand soaps. Even toothpaste, including Colgate Total, can also still continue to contain triclosan.
A spokesperson for Colgate-Palmolive told the Times the company had “scientific evidence” that proved its triclosan-containing toothpaste did actually show health benefits by way of reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth.
Still, the move is a step toward cleaner health and beauty products for an industry that’s largely unregulated. And that’s worth noting, especially for us here at Zatik Natural–a small brand committed to clean beauty. It seems almost silly that a controversial chemical like triclosan would become so widespread when, yes, a simple bar of soap and proper hand-washing techniques are just as effective. But, of course, without the risk of infection. We take this as a sign that consumer demand for cleaner products is only going to increase and help to change the industry for the better.
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