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What are “Antibacterial Ingredients”?

Antibacterial ingredients are materials that kill or inhibit a broad range of bacteria.

Antibacterial personal care products provide an important extra measure of protection for consumers at home and doctors and nurses in hospitals seeking to prevent spread of germs. These products, depending on their formulation and application, kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause skin infections, intestinal illnesses or other commonly transmitted diseases. These include potentially fatal illnesses caused by bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli. These products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drugs and have to be shown to be safe and effective for their intended use.

Are they Safe?

The safety of antibacterial ingredients has been assessed by a number of authoritative bodies. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (CIREP) has conducted safety assessments of the most frequently used antibacterial ingredients that are used in personal care products and have found them safe. In addition, the FDA has considered the safety of antibacterial ingredients as they are used in foods, drugs, cosmetics and other products regulated by the FDA, and has found no reason to dissuade consumers from using these products. In October 2005, the agency expressed concerns, which have also been voiced by some in the scientific community, about the possibility that the products might result in antibiotic resistance. To date, however, there is no convincing evidence that products containing antibacterial ingredients cause increased resistance to antibiotics. Moreover, other jurisdictions, such as the European Union, Japan and Canada have assessed the safety of antibacterial ingredients and found no basis for consumers to stop using products containing these ingredients.