"While this is an effort to ban triclosan from one of the 50 states, I think it will have a greater impact than that," Marty said.
The Roseville Democrat said other states and the federal government are likely to act, too. And he said come companies are already catching on that there's no marketing advantage to keeping triclosan in its products. He noted that Procter & Gamble's Crest toothpaste is now marketing itself as triclosan-free.
The ban was approved about a month after a new study confirmed that the use of antibacterial soaps can reduce the spread of harmful bacteria, which often leads to foodborne illness, more effectively than using non-antibacterial soaps. The research, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Food Protection (Vol. 77, No. 4, 2014, pp. 574-582), used new laboratory data, together with simulation techniques, to compare the ability of non-antibacterial and antibacterial products to reduce the risk of the infectious disease shigellosis, which is often spread during food preparation. Lead researcher Donald Schaffner of Rutgers University’s Department of Food Science says the data show that the use of three antibacterial wash products result in a statistically significant reduction in the presence of Shigella (the bacterium that causes shigellosis) compared to the use of the non-antibacterial soaps.
No wonder why triclosan is used in an estimated 75% of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold across the US, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The federal agency announced last year that it would revisit the safety of triclosan and other germ-killing ingredients used in personal cleaning products. While triclosan hasn't been shown to be hazardous to humans, studies have raised concerns that it can disrupt hormones critical for reproduction and development, at least in lab animals, and contribute to the development of resistant bacteria.
Critics, including the FDA, say there's no evidence that triclosan soaps are any more effective than washing with plain soap and water for preventing the spread of diseases. A University of Minnesota study published last year found increasing levels of triclosan in the sediments of several lakes, and that the chemical can break down in those waters into potentially harmful dioxins. Two months later, Dayton ordered all state agencies to stop buying hand soaps and dish and laundry cleaners containing triclosan.
The American Cleaning Institute had urged Dayton to veto the new bill, saying triclosan has been thoroughly researched and shown to provide important health benefits.
"Instead of letting federal regulators do their jobs, the legislation would take safe, effective and beneficial products off the shelves of Minnesota grocery, convenience and drug stores," Douglas Troutman, ACI's vice president and counsel for governmental affairs, wrote in a letter to Dayton.
ACI spokesman Brian Sansoni said Minnesota is the only state to enact a ban so far. He said it remains to be seen whether any individual manufacturers would go to the expense of reformulating their products just for the Minnesota market or simply stop selling them in the state. He said triclosan is an issue best regulated at the federal level.
Under an FDA rule proposed in December, manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes would have to demonstrate that their products are safe for daily use, and more effective than plain soap and water. Otherwise, they would need to reformulate these products or remove antibacterial claims from the labels. The agency is still taking public comments on the proposal.
Some manufacturers have announced plans over the last couple years to at least partially phase out triclosan. Procter & Gamble plans to finish dropping the chemical from its products this year. Johnson & Johnson plans to eliminate it from all its consumer products by 2015.