Cutting Board Experiment

Larry Farrell farrlarr at isu.edu
Fri Mar 5 11:19:37 EST 1999

Phyllis Williams wrote:

> This discussion about the antibacterial ingredient in plastics,
> toothpastes, soaps, handwashing gel, toys, plastic bags,...etc is making
> me wonder whether we will someday have a problem of resistance to these
> products much like the antibiotic resistance problem we have today.  Is
> industry going too far in playing on the fears of the public to sell new
> bacteria-fighting everyday products?  My granddaughter tells me that her
> kindergarten teacher has the children use antibacterial gel every time
> they go to the bathroom.  Is this a good practice?
> Phyllis Williams
> Biology Dept Chair
> Sinclair Community College
> Dayton, OH

 This issue has become a concern to some.  You might want to check:

"Study Suggests Antibacterial Soaps Can Backfire" SeattleTimes, Aug. 6,
"Soaps Help the  Wrong Bacteria Live" Detroit Free Press, 1998.
"The Antibacterial Fad: A New Threat"  S. Levy, Scientific American, March,
"Could Antibacterial Soaps Lead to Resistant Strains?" S. Mirsky, Scientific
American, July,

It seems likely to me that we are allowing consumer pressure in response to
lack of knowledge and information to lead us down yet another garden path to
a more unpleasant future.  The fact that manufacturers will take advantage
of any possible fad (that they generate themselves) in order to achieve a
financial advantage, compounded by the lack of scientific understanding in
the general public, has generally led to more problems, and this appears
likely to be just another example of that.

Larry D. Farrell, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Idaho State University

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