- WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.
- Instant hand sanitizers may not be everything consumers expect, according
to a Purdue university professor who teaches sanitation practices for food
- "Waterless, antibacterial hand sanitizers are marketed
as a way to 'wash your hands' when soap and water aren't available, and
they are especially popular among parents of small children," says
Barbara Almanza, associate professor of restaurant, hotel, institutional
and tourism management. "But research shows that they do not significantly
reduce the overall amount of bacteria on the hands, and in some cases they
may even increase it."
- Almanza says a hand sanitizer can't take the place of
old-fashioned soap and water at home or anywhere else.
- "In terms of the regulations regarding food services,
the Food and Drug Administration says hand sanitizers may be used as a
supplement but not as a substitute for hand washing," Almanza explains.
"By the same token, people should not use hand sanitizers in place
of a good lathering with soap and water if it's available."
- Almanza says the typical hand sanitizer, which is usually
alcohol-based, strips the skin of the outer layer of oil, which normally
prevents resident bacteria from coming to the surface.
- "Generally, this resident flora is not the type
that will make us sick," Almanza says, "but the assumption is
that when you have an increase in overall bacteria, the chances are better
that a disease-causing strain will be present."
- Yet the manufacturers of these products can continue
to claim that the sanitizers are up to 99.9 percent effective in killing
germs because they were tested on inanimate surfaces rather than human
- "The physiological complexity of human skin makes
it very difficult to use for testing of this nature," Almanza says.
"The most clear and consistent results were going to come from using
surfaces for which the variables can be controlled, and that's just not
real life. Real life is not neat and tidy."
- Editor's Note: The original news release can be found
- Note: This story has been adapted from a news release
issued by Purdue University for journalists and other members of the
public. If you wish to quote from any part of this story, please credit
Purdue University as the original source. You may also wish to include
the following link in any citation: <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000218061254.htm
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