FightGermsNow.com Response to a Post on Personal Care Truth About New Antibacterial Web Site

May 2011

The Personal Care Products Council and the American Cleaning Institute would like to take this opportunity to respond to Perry Romanowski’s thoughtful post about the “Fight Germs Now” Web site. This area of science is complex and can be confusing. We appreciate Mr. Romanowski’s feedback as it helps us understand how to better communicate the relevant science.

We welcome this opportunity to clarify some of the issues raised. Here are a few key points to consider:

  1. The study to which the author refers demonstrating that antibacterial hand washes reduce the number of germs on the skin to a greater extent than plain soap was published in a very highly regarded peer-reviewed journal (The Journal of Food Protection). Unfortunately, FightGermsNow.com is bound by the copyright terms of the journal and is only able to publish the abstract of this study. A full copy of the article can be obtained for a fee by contacting the publisher (http://www.foodprotection.org/publications/journal-of-food-protection/).
  2. Under the heading “Analysis of Facts,” what we want to make clear is that the expert opinion and model to which we refer only constitute a portion of the supporting data presented on the Web site. It’s also important to note the caliber of experts party to the report – they are all well-regarded, independent researchers with relevant and in-depth expertise. This type of collective independent review is a way to obtain a balanced expert analysis and is used by many research-based entities, including FDA and the National Institutes of Health,
  3. Mr. Romanowski contends in his post that FightGermsNow.com excluded a portion of a sentence from the abstract (i.e., “… the link between greater bacterial reduction and a reduction of disease has not been definitively demonstrated.”), and he is correct. However, the purpose of antibacterial hand washes or any topical product such as alcohol hand sanitizer is to reduce the risk of disease, not to treat disease. This is clearly stated in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Over-The-Counter Monograph drug indication for these products, i.e., “…to reduce bacteria on skin” or “to reduce bacteria on skin that may cause disease.” That said, we appreciate Mr. Romanowski’s point, and we will reexamine the summary we wrote with this in mind.
  4. The last study covers both bacteria and viruses (not solely bacteria). Clearly, antibacterial hand washes are not intended to have an effect on viruses but rather are specifically formulated for antibacterial activity. In fact, companies are prevented by FDA regulations from making antiviral claims or marketing products that are antiviral.
  5. Regarding the survey data posted showcasing public support for antibacterial products, we believed that in the face of much misinformation about the safety and efficacy of these products (misinformation that is aggressively being used to urge lawmakers to ban key ingredients in these products), that it was important for us and for policy makers to understand and take into account current public sentiment about them. We are pleased that there is still strong support for antibacterial hygiene products, and our member companies will continue to strive to make products that meet consumer needs and expectations.

We appreciate Mr. Romanowski’s feedback on Personal Care Truth. Our goal is to provide easily accessible, clear, and scientifically-based information about personal care products and ingredients, and his post helps us with this mission. We encourage interested readers to go to the FightGermsNow.com Web site to learn more about antibacterial hand wash products and ingredients and to use the information they find there to help them decide what is right for their families.

Return to Newsroom