FDA finally gets it right — just in time for flu season

Brace yourself… because it’s going to be one of those rare days where I actually say something nice about the FDA. Granted, for doing what it should have done years ago. But better late than never — especially where the issue of so-called “antibacterial” soap is concerned.

As you know, I’ve been urging you to avoid these products for ages now — years before the FDA took up the cause. Not just because exposure to a little bacteria is actually good for you. But also because the ingredients in these soaps — triclosan and triclocarban, for example — have been pegged with a long list of extremely disturbing risks.

It’s high time these products were yanked from store shelves. And in a rather shocking twist, the FDA actually agrees with me. Read it and weep:

“Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections,”

I could hardly believe my eyes. But, like I said above, this has been a long time coming.

Triclosan has been raising eyebrows as far back as 1978 — which means it’s been on the FDA’s radar as a potential hormone-disruptor for nearly 40 years now. And yet, they didn’t do anything about it until 2013.

And even then, the FDA only issued manufacturers a timeline to prove the effectiveness of the antibacterial ingredients they use. (Not their safety.)

But the proof just isn’t there. And it looks like the FDA’s hammer is finally coming down.

Of course, it’s worth noting that this recent ban doesn’t extend to hand sanitizers. (Though fortunately, a lot of these are alcohol-based.) It also doesn’t apply to the antiseptic products used by healthcare professionals and food handlers. Both of those are still under review.

It also doesn’t include soaps or body washes containing a few other potentially dangerous ingredients — namely, benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol.

Manufacturers still have another year to cough up some convincing support for those.

In the meantime, though, the message to you is clear as ever. Stay away from “antibacterial” products. Wash your hands well and often (especially with the arrival of cold and flu season). And always stick with plain old soap and water.