Certain ingredients that are common in antibacterial hand and body soaps are no longer allowed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday that ingredients including triclosan and triclocarban—which have long raised safety concerns because they have been linked to hormone disruption, bacterial resistance, and even possibly liver cancer—will no longer be allowed.
The agency released its long-awaited final ruling on the issue, and said in a statement that companies can no longer market their antibacterial hand and body washes if they contained these ingredients. That’s 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.”
The FDA says the rule is intended for products that require use with water, and does not include hand sanitizers or wipes. Some companies had preemptively begun removing the ingredients from their soaps due to public pressure and safety concerns.
In 2013, the FDA asked soap manufacturers to provide evidence on the safety and effectiveness of ingredients like triclosan and triclocarban after data suggested that they could increase risks for hormonal problems and bacterial resistance. If companies wanted to continue using these ingredients they had to prove that they worked better at reducing infections than products that didn’t contain them. The FDA says companies did not provide adequate safety and effectiveness data for 19 different ingredients.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) said in a statement. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”