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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 1:20 EDT

The Soap Wars

December 28, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Hand washing with antibacterial soap proves to kill significantly more bacteria than non-antibacterial, according to this review of dozens of studies.

Researchers Donald Schaffner and Rebecca Montville of Rutgers University´s (New Jersey) Food Science Department conducted a quantitative analysis of existing data in order to determine if there was a difference in effectiveness between antibacterial and non-antibacterial soaps.

“A difference in the effectiveness of antimicrobial and non-antimicrobial soaps appears to exist and is repeatedly observed through a variety of analyses; antimicrobial soap is consistently and statistically always more effective than non-antimicrobial soap,” the researchers were quoted as saying.

This research team reviewed a total of 25 publications containing 374 observations found to have examined use of both antibacterial and non-antibacterial soap in the same study.

“Although differences in efficacy between antimicrobial and non-antimicrobial soap may be relatively small, they do exist, and small but significant differences in pathogen levels on hands can have a significant effect on public health,” Schaffner and Montville were quoted as saying.

“In addition to our findings on antimicrobial effectiveness, I was really struck by the similar behavior of very different species of bacteria in response to antibacterial soap. In other words, we found that antibacterial soap did its job against a variety of bacteria, including E. coli and Staph,” Schaffer explained.

SOURCE: Journal of Food Protection