The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported Thursday that some hand sanitizers and antiseptic products come with claims that they can prevent infection from E. coli, Salmonella, the H1N1 flu virus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Don’t believe them. The statements are unproven and illegal, the FDA said in a news release.


FDA said it is cracking down on companies that, without agency review or approval, promote their products as preventing these diseases.

“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,” said Deborah Autor, compliance director at FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

“FDA has not approved any products claiming to prevent infection from MRSA, E. coli, Salmonella, or H1N1 flu,” Autor added. “These products give consumers a false sense of protection.”

FDA said it issued warning letters on Wednesday to four companies that make or distribute the following over-the-counter products:


Staphaseptic First Aid Antiseptic/Pain Relieving Gel, by Tec Laboratories

Safe4Hours Hand Sanitizing Lotion and Safe4Hours First Aid Antiseptic Skin Protectant, by JD Nelson and Associates

Dr. Tichenor’s Antiseptic Gel, by Dr. G.H. Tichenor Antiseptic Co.

Clean Well All-Natural Hand Sanitizer, Clean Well All-Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipes, and Clean Well All-Natural Antibacterial Foaming Hand Soap, by Oh So Clean Inc., also known as CleanWell Company

If the companies do not correct the violations explained in the warning letters within 15 days, FDA said it may seize their products or take other legal action.

FDA advises that, in general, one should wash hands often, especially before handling food, to help avoid getting sick. Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds — about the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

If you find products on the Internet that you believe make false or unproven claims, the FDA recommends that you report the claims by following instructions at Reporting Unlawful Sales on Internet.


Image of products from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration