Popular hand soap facing recall over bacterial contamination concerns

Hand soaps sold at retailers like Walmart are facing a recall over concerns that they are contaminated with potentially serious bacteria.

On the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Cosmetic Recalls and Alerts page, the FDA lists various scents of Scent Theory’s foaming hand soaps subject to the recall, which were called back over concerns the products are contaminated with Burkholderia cepacia.

Burkholderia cepacia is the name for a group or "complex" of bacteria that is often resistant to common antibiotics and can pose a risk for those with certain medical conditions or those who have a weakened immune system.

Four scents of the Scent Theory hand soap are subject to recall: Lemon Citrus, Vanilla Coconut, Fresh Lavender, and Eucalyptus Mint, all of which were sold in 11oz bottles.

The soaps were distributed nationwide, including D.C. and Peurto Rico, per the FDA, which notes that some 636,416 bottles were recalled. However, it was not immediately clear if that number refers to the total number of bottles recalled, or the total number of bottles for each scent.

The following lots numbers are subject to the recall:

  • Lemon Citrus: T209-101, T217-101, T223-101, and T237-101 
  • Vanilla Coconut: T209-104, T217-104, T237-102, and T223-104 
  • Eucalyptus Mint: T209-102, T217-102, and T223-102
  • Fresh Lavender: T209-103, T217-103, and T223-103

According to the Centers for Diease Control and Prevention (CDC), B. cepacia poses "little medical risk to healthy people." However, the agency warns, "people who have certain health problems like weakened immune systems or chronic lung diseases, particularly cystic fibrosis, may be more susceptible to infections with B. cepacia. B cepacia is a known cause of infections in hospitalized patients."


The bacteria can be found in water and soil, though in cases of human infection, contaminated medical products are often the cause, per the CDC.

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