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Hand sanitizers: Some aren’t the germ fighters we thought

In the last few years hand sanitizers have popped up everywhere.  Offices have mounted hand sanitizers on their walls and women carry small bottles of the alcohol smelling liquid in their purse all to battle germs.  They are supposed to be keeping us healthy right?  Well, the Food and Drug Administration says some companies are making false claims.

In a consumer alert, the FDA is warning consumers about misleading advertising some sanitizer companies are making.  Companies claiming their hand wash can kill infections connected to MRSA, e. coli, salmonella, flu, or other viruses are unfounded.

“Consumers are being misled if they think these products you can buy in a drug store or from other places will protect them from a potentially deadly infection,” says Deborah Autor, compliance director at FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The FDA sent warning letters to four companies that are making these claims, which the FDA calls ‘misleading’ and ‘illegal.’

One company is advertising their anti-bacterial lotion will kill the virus that causes the flu strain H1N1, another claims to have plant oils that will knock out salmonella.  The FDA say they have never approved any sanitizer with proven evidence to beat these serious kinds of bacteria.

Products to avoid: Staphaseptic First Aid Antiseptic, Safe4Hours Hand Sanitizing Lotion, Dr. Tichenor’s Antiseptic gel, Clean Well All-Natural Antibacterial Foaming Hand Soap.

The FDA gives the following tips for consumers:

*Don’t buy over-the-counter hand sanitizers or other products that claim to prevent infection from MRSA, E. coli, Salmonella, flu, or other bacteria or viruses.

*Ask your pharmacist or other health care professional for help in distinguishing between reliable and questionable information on product labels and company websites.

*In general, wash hands often, especially before handling food, to help avoid getting sick. Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. For children, this means the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.