Hand sanitisers under scrutiny

Manufacturers have to prove ingredients are safe and work.

Hand sanitiser manufacturers in the US are having to prove ingredients in their products are safe and actually work.

Hand sanitiser manufacturers in the US are having to prove ingredients in their products are safe and actually work. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring manufacturers that want to continue selling these products to provide proof of the active ingredients’ safety and effectiveness.

Hand sanitisers are widely available. However, the FDA says more information is needed about the effects of repeated daily exposure to some of the active ingredients in these products.

FDA Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research director Janet Woodcock says: “These products provide a convenient alternative when hand washing with plain soap and water is unavailable, but it’s our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day. To do that, we must fill the gaps in scientific data on certain active ingredients.”

The FDA has asked manufacturers for data on three active ingredients – alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol), isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride.

The action is part of an ongoing FDA review of antiseptic products, which also includes antibacterial soaps.

Consumer NZ has previously raised concerns about the marketing and promotion of antibacterial soaps. There’s no evidence these products provide any advantage over using soap and water. The widespread use of antibacterial products also has the potential to contribute to antibiotic resistance, a major public health issue.

Antibacterial soaps

Antibacterial soaps

Antibacterial soaps

If you believe the hype, antibacterial soap should be your first line of defence against the plague of disease-causing bugs lurking in every home. But evidence these products provide any extra benefit is lacking. There’s also a chance they could do us harm.

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