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Hand Sanitizer Recalled For Containing Burkholderia Cepacia Bacteria

on July 2 | in Health | by | with 42 Comments

My Favorite Soap . . .

Is infused with lavender, mint and a smidge of E. Coli, but to mix things up I sometimes custom blend a batch of lemongrass and staphylococcus aureus. Now, if you are new here you might think this is strange, but really it’s nothing. I also let my kids eat dirt, believe the occasional fever is beneficial, and am actively looking for a way to give my kids the chicken pox

Okay, that part about the soap is pure rubbish, but today I do happen to have a story about cleansers that is oh-so-much stranger than fiction. Over the weekend Kimberly-Clark pulled several hundred bottles of Kleenex-brand luxury foam sanitizer from Canadian shelves because - wait for it - they contained bacteria which “may pose serious health risks to people with weakened immune systems.”

Say what? Antibacterial products pre-loaded with bacteria?!?!?  As one blogger asked, “Why didn’t the bacteria contaminating those recalled bottles get zapped on contact with the magic goo inside?”

Kimberly Clark is not commenting on that, but in its statement the megacorp did say that “The bacteria identified in the tested samples are from the Burkholderia cepacia group. These bacteria pose little risk to healthy Canadians, as their bodies are able to successfully fight off infections. For someone whose immune system has been weakened by other serious illnesses, especially cystic fibrosis, these bacteria can cause serious infections, including pneumonia and blood infection.”

The Thing That Gets Me . . .

Pictured Above: Playskool’s products contain Microban® plastic, which contains the anti-microbial Tiriclosan. The chemical is a known endocrine disruptor and is suspected to impair heart function, muscle function and induce reproductive toxicity

About this recall is that it’s a real-time picture of us making our own fears come true. Anti-bacterial products say they kill “99.9%” of germs, but what they don’t tell you is the .1% that get left behind develops a resistance to disinfectants. Kimbely Clark has not indicated that the bacteria found was a superbug, but it could well be on it’s way to becoming one. Here’s what I mean:

“In a recent study a :mutated strain of P. aeruginosa [which is responsible for 1 out of 10 hospital-acquired infections] was observed developing a resistance to the common disinfectant benzalkonium chloride (BSK) with rapidly increasing tolerance.

Eventually, the mutated superbug was able withstand concentrations of BSK 400 times greater than the non-mutated strain, according to a report in The Star.

But that’s only the half of it.

The superbug form of P. aeruginosa, which became resilient against BSK after prolonged exposure to the chemical, was also found to be resistant to the powerful antibiotic ciprofloxacin–despite never being exposed to it. Ciprofloxacin is considered a “drug of last resort” in fighting some of the world’s scariest bacteria, such as anthrax. Researchers worry that if a bacteria strain more powerful than P. aeruginosa were to develop the resistance, the consequences could be devastating.” (source, emphasis mine)

Now, I Am Not Against Anti-Bacterial Products

Some contain harmful chemicals for sure, but others like this four thieves vinegar make a great hand sanitizer when washing isn’t possible. We also use this alternative to Lysol for deep cleaning the house. But here’s the thing: Germ theory is bunk, and putting triclosan in everything from toys to toothpaste is not going to keep us healthy. And even if it were true, the fact remains that at any given moment there are 100 bacterial cells for every 10 human cells in our bodies. No amount of anti-bacterial goo is going to put a dent in that ratio.

Could burkholderia cepacia be the next MRSA, C. Diff or NCM-1? I hope not, but I’m going to take my cod liver oil and go roll in some dirt just in case.

What Do You Think About Anti-Bacterial Soaps & Sanitizers?

Follow-Up Post: How To Make Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer

 

 

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42 Responses to Hand Sanitizer Recalled For Containing Burkholderia Cepacia Bacteria

  1. Thanks for this interesting and quite shocking post. I have heard things recently about concerns to do with resistant bugs. It’s pretty mad that things are resistant to ciprofloxacin even though they haven’t been exposed to it. You’d wonder if its in the food or something, but as you say I think this doesn’t get used enough for that. I think antibac stuff has its uses but too much is definitely no good!

  2. Alexis D says:

    I avoid them but I didn’t realize that they put triclosan in toys – boo!!! :(

  3. Becky Welp via FB says:

    That is what one would call ironic.

  4. Meg Bailey Gustafson via FB says:

    I saw this. crazy and yes, ironic.

  5. Meg Bailey Gustafson via FB says:

    Heather, what do you know about the little spritzer hand sanitizer that all the health food stores sell? With rosemary, etc. I am blanking on the name….

  6. I haven’t seen it, Meg Bailey Gustafson but if you remember the name I’ll look into it!

    • Brandis says:

      It’s called Clean Well. I use it as well, although sparingly. It’s what I keep in my purse for those times we can’t wash our hands and desperately need to!

  7. Ty-Megan Gross via FB says:

    This scares me because we use a lot of alcohol based hand sanitizer since my daughter has a trach. We tried the natural hand sanitizers, but found she was still getting sick. Now I’m a freak with the germ-x. I’ll work on building up her immune system when she’s bigger and has the trach out. Right now, I’m just trying to keep her alive and growing.

  8. Heather Bain Brandt via FB says:

    CleanWell is the hand sanitizer I’ve bought at Whole Foods etc which I’d love to know if it’s still considered safe.

  9. Morgan says:

    Gosh, this is so alarming! I especially find the information about the toys particularly disturbing. Heather, can you point me in the direction of some safe toys for my little ones? My boys love wooden toys {these haven’t been laced or treated with any poisons yet have they} but we do own quite a few plastic toys {we have many Playskool cars}. I’m planning on getting them out of the house ASAP. I don’t allow any antibacterial products in the house and I’m really disappointed to find that they’ve been here all along. Are they labeled as containing Triclosan and I missed it or is this yet another example of us being intentionally left in the dark?

  10. Morgan Falter Dunn via FB says:

    Heather, please point us in the direction of some SAFE toys :)

  11. Hugs to you, Ty-Megan Gross! I ran across a comment of yours on Kitchen Stewardship while researching this post, so I know this is something you’ve been actively trying to find the best solution to for a long time. I feel blessed that my family hasn’t needed things like antibiotics and anti-microbials for a long time, but I’m still grateful they’re there for the times they’re really needed. I may do a follow-up post on natural alternatives to synthetic sanitizers. I know you’ve used vinegar and I’d love your general thoughts on it (plus thoughts on anything else you’ve tried!)

  12. I’ll look into it, Meg Bailey Gustafson and Heather Bain Brandt!

  13. Morgan Falter Dunn via FB says:

    ^That’s what we use.

  14. Morgan Falter Dunn – Man, I wish I knew where to start. I’ve purchased toys before simply because they were safe, only to find that my kids wouldn’t play with them! Now they have a little bit of everything – expensive non-toxic toys, plastic toys (mostly older stuff we bought used) and art supplies. Most of the time, though, Katie would rather be riding her bike while Micah chases her with a stroller :)

  15. [...] [Update July 2, 2012: I found this excellent post at the Mommy Potamus: Hand Sanitizer Recalled For Containing Burkholderia Cepacia Bacteria.] [...]

  16. Laura says:

    just noticed that all the diaper changing systems are made of this plastic—ewww! (i avoid using those at ALL costs) but some situations there’s no alternative! :&

  17. Erin says:

    Lots of school supplies have Microban now, too- even crayons and pencils!

  18. Really, don’t use it anyway

  19. Because we are breeding super bugs. I refused to use the stuff when the reports oF children licking their hands or eating after application and getting sick.

  20. Delicia Beaty – Exactly :)

  21. Jodi Strassheim via FB says:

    GREAT article. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Glad you liked it, Jodi Strassheim!

  23. Shelly Bartle via FB says:

    So for a safe alternative for those times we have to use a porta-potty and can’t wash our hands? I was thinking CO & an essential oil mixed in would probably kill most germs but which one would be best? Any ideas?

  24. Shelly Bartle via FB says:

    So for a safe alternative for those times we have to use a porta-potty and can’t wash our hands? I was thinking CO & an essential oil mixed in would probably kill most germs but which one would be best? Any ideas?

  25. Mégan Miles Alba via FB says:

    Shelly – I do lavender or thieves oil blend mixed w/ co.

  26. There are a ton that will work, Shelly Bartle (tea tree, lemon, lavender), but I personally like thieves :)

  27. How about oregano oil. Just used it on a friend to relieve her toothache and it did so immediately. Also will help the immune and kills bad bugs if you take three drops. Especially if you are getting something. There is so much more you can do that will not hurt the immune and it not chemicals!

  28. Jodi Strassheim via FB says:

    I haven’t used Oregano oil but am very interested in it’s benefits

  29. Yes, oregano too! Thanks Melinda Nelson!

  30. Brenna Aschbacher via FB says:

    be sure to dilute oregano oil w/a carrier oil, it can be pretty hot, especially for children and those with sensitive skin.

  31. [...] Read More >> This entry was posted in Uncategorized by qoresystems. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  32. julie H says:

    do you have an article about using theives oil? I have heard so many great uses for it- but didn’t know if you had anything in print as a reference. thanks

  33. Ty-Megan Gross via FB says:

    Sorry I didn’t respond sooner! That post on Kitchen Stewardship helped me finally accept that alcohol based hand sanitizers were not such a bad thing and probably the best solution for us. I still use mostly natural cleaners in the house though, especially lots of vinegar! The one place I broke down was on antibacterial wipes that we use on everything when we come back from doctor appointments. While vinegar will kill most germs, the germs in the hospitals and doctors’ offices are not your run of the mill germs. When we get home, we wipe down all bags, car seat, equipment and then shower with antibacterial soap and change our clothes. We’re accepting more and more that while that would never be necessary with a typical child, there’s a reason why kids with medical issues didn’t survive back in the day. I know sometimes when we see instances where an “evil” product is contaminated, there is an attitude of “serves them right” (not that I’ve seen that here) and people need to remember that while natural is always the preference, some of us are forced to live in both worlds of the natural and medical and product contamination seriously threatens the lives of those with health issues. I’m happy to say that we are able to do many things naturally with our daughter, but are very grateful for the medical advancements that have made her life possible.

  34. Ty-Megan Gross via FB says:

    Sorry I didn’t respond sooner! That post on Kitchen Stewardship helped me finally accept that alcohol based hand sanitizers were not such a bad thing and probably the best solution for us. I still use mostly natural cleaners in the house though, especially lots of vinegar! The one place I broke down was on antibacterial wipes that we use on everything when we come back from doctor appointments. While vinegar will kill most germs, the germs in the hospitals and doctors’ offices are not your run of the mill germs. When we get home, we wipe down all bags, car seat, equipment and then shower with antibacterial soap and change our clothes. We’re accepting more and more that while that would never be necessary with a typical child, there’s a reason why kids with medical issues didn’t survive back in the day. I know sometimes when we see instances where an “evil” product is contaminated, there is an attitude of “serves them right” (not that I’ve seen that here) and people need to remember that while natural is always the preference, some of us are forced to live in both worlds of the natural and medical and product contamination seriously threatens the lives of those with health issues. I’m happy to say that we are able to do many things naturally with our daughter, but are very grateful for the medical advancements that have made her life possible.

  35. [...] Hand Sanitizer Recalled for Containing Burkholderia Cepacia Bacteria [...]

  36. This reminds me of YHL’s post on anti-bacterial soap back in the day. Did you ever read it?

    http://www.younghouselove.com/2009/10/ask-almost-doctor-dan-handy-or-harmful/

  37. Joni says:

    OH Wow!! I believe that we are living in a generation that we want everything easy and not what is good for us. I barely use the antibacterial hand sanitizers and the same goes to my kids. I will use Lysol every once in a while to kill germs but use vinegar to clean a lot of things. Plus make my own laundry detergent. I want my family to eat healthy and stay healthy the right way. My kids do have some medical issues and will do what it take to stay healthy.

  38. Colette Hopkin says:

    This makes very interesting reading especially at a time in my life when I am going through a complete revolution of my attitudes to hygiene. Long story short I am slowly moving away from obsessive handwashing and alcohol gel addiction to realising I may be doing more harm than good to myself and my family. I have a daughter who is considered ‘vunerable’ since birth (Down’s Syndrome and congenital heart disease). Since her birth and the birth of my son who isn’t in the ‘vunerable’ category I have struggled with my hysteria over my kids getting sick. I am now in a transition of eliminating as many chemical and processed foods from our lives as possible. I also realise that I need to let my children get dirty now and again and not freak out. I need to concern myself much more with what is going into their bodies and less about what I put on their bodies (antibacterial gel, soap, suncream et al!). I am getting there slowly but this article lets me know I am going in the right direction. Thank you for that :)

  39. Julie says:

    As a substitute for two very small school districts I’m horrified that numerous hand sanitizers are now positioned outside of lunch rooms and bathrooms. I noticed yesterday large signs were posted above the pumps reading: ONLY ONE PUMP! Until reading this article I didn’t know what to think of this broad use, even though I never used it myself. Don’t even get me started on what is being fed to children in those lunchrooms!

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