Hygiene product manufacturers will now have to prove that products sold with anti-bacterial labeling will actually prevent the spread of bacteria and illness to customers. This was the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who determined after many decades of study that products such as hand soap and body wash sold with these properties don't actually mitigate bacterial growth.
In fact, there is some concern that these products could exacerbate bacterial infections and contribute to the creation of stronger strains of the microbes that are more resistant.
The FDA decided to limit the marketing of anti-bacterial products in part after it found evidence that triclosan and triclocarban – two substances that are often used in these types of soaps – may have caused hormonal problems in lab animals that led to lower sperm counts and earlier puberty.
"Millions of Americans use antibacterial hand soap and body wash products," the FDA said in a statement on its website. "Although consumers generally view these products as effective tools to help prevent the spread of germs, there is currently no evidence that they are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water."
If companies are unable to prove that their soap products actually meet the requirements to be marketed as "anti-bacterial," they'll need to be reformulated, removed from store shelves or repackaged without such labeling.
The development of new bacterial strains that are more resistant to current antibiotic formulae is a major concern for advocates of eco friendly products. The fear is that overuse of these medications in both humans and livestock could lead to an epidemic of "super" bacteria that simply can't be stopped with normal medicine.