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Anti-bacterial Warfare

How many of you use some kind of hand sanitizer product? You know, that clear gel you squirt on your hands and don’t rinse off, that is supposed to kill bacteria. The ironic news is that the FDA has seized all skin sanitizers and skin protectant products from a manufacturer in Utah because the products were (I’m not making this up) contaminated with bacteria that could cause skin infections. Doesn’t say much about a sanitizer’s ability to kill bacteria if it can become contaminated with bacteria, does it?

The company in question, Clarcon, manufactures the products under a number of brand names (Citrushield Lotion, Dermasentials, DermaBarrier, Dermassentials by Clarcon Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer, Iron Fist Barrier Hand Treatment, Skin Shield Restaurant, Skin Shield Industrial, Skin Shield Beauty Salon Lotion, Total Skin Care Beauty, and Total Skin Care Work). If you have a skin sanitizer or skin protectant product manufactured by Clarcon, the FDA advises you to throw it away (normal trash is ok). The FDA ordered the seizure of the products after Clarcon refused to destroy them, despite the contamination.

There is some question about why the FDA sent in the federal marshals in this case. Maybe after all the recent food contamination cases caused by lax enforcement of safety regulations, they are trying to be more proactive.



  1. Eva wrote:

    We were taught in nursing school in the 60s that any of those “sanitizers” (like alcohol) must be in contact for 24hrs to work. Try soap and water. Often.

    Monday, August 3, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  2. Gene wrote:

    According to one chemist I know, they don’t break down. So they are accumulating in our groundwater and oceans.

    Monday, August 3, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  3. starluna wrote:

    Glad to hear that the FDA is using its authority to seize harmful products rather than waiting for the company to comply.

    I am flabbergasted that the company would refuse to destroy contaminated products. What were they going to do? Put a label on the product saying that it is defective with use?

    Monday, August 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Personally, I don’t like anti-bacterial products because most bacteria are actually good for you. We couldn’t survive without several species that live inside of us, helping us digest our food, and other things. So why would I want to attack and kill bacteria?

    Monday, August 3, 2009 at 11:39 pm | Permalink
  5. @ Iron Knee. We’re like you, and we’ve had to work hard to avoid the anti-bacterial craze.

    @ Starluna. The only thing I can believe they were thinking was that they could get contracts to sell the stuff overseas–sort of like what happened when the US started to seriously discourage tobacco in the country. So the companies scrambled to get huge contracts out of the country. (Yes, I know you know it. Yes, I’m suggesting that the company was being that uncaring about people.)

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:06 am | Permalink
  6. starluna wrote:

    Thought Dancer – good point. I could never be an evil corporate executive. It would never occur to me to do that.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 7:33 am | Permalink
  7. Eva wrote:

    Wm, I’m with you as a nurse. The body needs bacteria to fight worse things. I happened to have been on an antiviral med last week because of some surgery. Boy that messed up my nicely balanced system. Lot less ills in this country if people would ingest some bacteria and viruses.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 7:42 am | Permalink
  8. @ Eva. What’s the old cliche–ya gotta eat a peck of dirt before ya die?

    Maybe there’s some good truth to that.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    I remember reading a paper (around six months ago?) from a medical researcher who was asserting that the purpose of our appendix was to safe-keep our beneficial flora and fauna. Occasionally, due to disease (or even anti-viral meds), our bacteria get wiped out, and if we don’t have a way to replenish them we could die. There are other ways to replenish them as well, mostly from being in close contact with other people (kissing, sharing food, etc.) but the appendix serves as a kind of fail-safe mechanism.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  10. undergrad microbio wrote:

    Hey guys, I took microbiology and pathogenic bacteriology last year. Maybe I can provide some food for thought.

    The thing is, when sanitizers say “kills 99.9% bacteria”, they don’t mean ALL bacteria. They mean that in the laboratory it is found that the sanitizer kills some of the more common disease-causing bacteria. That is- Staph. (including MRSA), Strep., TB, Salmonella, Hepatitis, E-Coli, some Fungi and numerous potentially dangerous viruses.

    To say that hand sanitizer has become contaminated with bacteria, is totally possible, and I’m surprised it’s not a more common problem. It takes quite a bit of caution to maintain a sterile environment. Sterile environments that inhibit growth by certain bacteria species are niches in which other resistant bacteria CAN grow, and without the competition without these other inhibited bacteria, the resistant species typically flourish.

    I’m interested to know which species of bacteria it has become contaminated with.

    And IRON KNEE- don’t worry. Your gut has plenty of natural flora in it already, you don’t need to ingest more (the enzymes in saliva and stomach acid would make this impossible anyway). Go ahead and sanitize your hands.

    Friday, February 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink