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Antibac soaps to be reformulated in Aust

AAP logoAAP 21/11/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Supermarket giants Woolworths and ALDI will remove the "harmful" chemical triclosan from their home brand antibacterial soaps sold in Australia after it was banned in the US.

The US Food and Drug Adminstration in September banned the sale of over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body-wash products containing triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent, and 18 other chemicals over concerns their long-term use encourages drug resistant-bacteria.

Australian manufacturers are now following the US lead, despite triclosan still being legal in Australia.

The FDA said there was not enough evidence to show these products were better than ordinary soap and water and could be doing "more harm than good".

Studies have also shown that triclosan can potentially affect hormone function, damage the liver and kidneys, and is a suspected carcinogen.

It's now hoped most antibacterial soap products sold in Australia will be triclosan-free by the end of next year.

"ALDI Australia supports the removal of triclosan from our Tricare Antibacterial Hand Wash. We are currently working with our supplier to remove this ingredient by 2017," ALDI said in a statement to AAP on Monday.

Woolworths is also working with suppliers to remove the ingredient from their three existing own brand products.

Woolworths says it anticipates it will be completed within the "next 12 months".

Globally, Palmolive has started discontinuing the use of the ingredients concerned in the recent US FDA ruling from the antibacterial variants of their Palmolive soap products. This process is expected to completed sometime next year.

"Our products meet all regulatory requirements of the Australian market, and we will continue to comply with those standards," Colgate-Palmolive said.

Australian infectious disease experts welcomed the FDA's ban at the time and said all measures must be considered to slow the rate of antimicrobial resistance - one of the biggest health threats facing the globe.

"Reducing the unnecessary use of such agents, in this case in products that are not used in clinical settings, is an important aspect of our collective efforts," said Ramon Shaban, president of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control.

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