For many years now the industry has debated the use of anti-bacterial agents in flowing hand soap, with some scientific studies showing a modest benefit over the use of an anti-bacterial based hand soap, while other studies show little or no benefit versus non-antibacterial soap. Recently the US Food and Drug Administration has made a ruling affecting approximately 40% of the over-the-counter anti-bacterial soap market, banning certain anti-bacterial soaps in the United States that contain any of 19 ingredients that have been unproven as being “safe”, warning that they could potentially cause more harm than good in long-term use. The list of ingredients include triclocarbon and triclosan, the latter of which is commonly used in many anti-bacterial hand soaps, acne medication, detergents and deodorants. Some NZ scientists agree with the ban, citing possible effects on hormone function, liver and kidney damage, as well as environmental toxicity to aquatic food chains. However, due to triclosan being a preservative, it is also used in rubber, plastic, textile, leather and paper consumer products to prevent bacteria, fungus and mildew from growing. An environmental toxicologist at the Cawthron Institute, Louis Tremblay, agreed New Zealand should implement a ban, but has said that the chemical was still a good weapon in medical and veterinary settings in which pathogens thrived.
“Under those circumstances, it makes sense to use products containing triclosan to reduce the spread of disease vectors.”
Research is still currently being conducted to verify the safety and effectiveness of ingredients in consumer wash products, which may lead to reformulations in the future.
Currently, The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), the country’s leading food authority, still have a number of anti-bacterial materials approved for skin contact, including those used in some of our products. Regardless we are watching the space closely and already we have a number of non-antibacterial products available for some customer groups.