American Cleaning Institute - For Better Living
July 27, 2000 12:31 PM

Joint SDA/CTFA Statement: Unnecessary Antibiotic Prescriptions, Not Antibacterial Soaps Are Real Cause of Bacterial Resistance

Consumers Need Antibacterial Products to Fight Disease-Causing Germs

July 27, 2000

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In their fight to protect themselves from sickness and disease, consumers should continue to use antibacterial personal care products in the home with confidence, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) and The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) said today.

The recommendation comes in response to questions raised by Dr. Stuart Levy and repeated in the media seeking to dissuade consumers from using these important defenses against disease-causing germs. Antibacterial personal care/cleaning products, depending on their formulation and application, kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause skin infections, intestinal illnesses or other commonly transmitted diseases. These include potentially fatal illnesses caused by bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli.

"Recent media stories have unnecessarily confused consumers about antibacterial soaps and washes," said Ed Kavanaugh, President of CTFA, the national trade association representing the cosmetic, toiletry and fragrance industry. "Antibacterial products do not cause bacterial resistance. They kill germs, thus breaking the circle of infection."

Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Arizona and a world-renowned expert on bacteria, agreed. "The simplest defense against disease is prevention, and the first defense is always good hygiene," Dr. Gerba said. "Antimicrobial products have been shown to be an essential part of good hygiene."

Experts say the real culprit is the over-prescription and misuse of antibiotics. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors write 50 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics each year. It is this over-prescription of drugs -- and their misuse by patients -- that are the key reasons for the emergence of antibiotic resistance, experts say.

"The tangible solution to this problem of antibiotic resistance is prudent use of therapeutic antibiotics," said Ernie Rosenberg, President of SDA. "That's what doctors should be focusing on."

The CTFA and SDA, meanwhile, remain committed to researching the issue. "Because our industry regards all consumer health questions as important, the manufacturers of antibacterial products are conducting additional research to further explore this issue," Kavanaugh said.

You can view more detailed information on the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial products on ACI’s Antibacterial Information page, at


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