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Dr. Charles P. Gerba Interview

In our interview, Dr. Charles P. Gerba, University of Arizona Microbiologist, discusses the study he led on bulk soap contamination.

QUESTION: When you use soap from a contaminated bulk soap dispenser, what are you actually putting on your hands?

DR. GERBA: (see response below)

Every time you use that soap you're getting hundreds of million fecal bacteria on your hands which is actually more than is in the toilet after you flush it. That's why I can't really use it anymore. I look at it and go "I got a hundred million fecal bacteria on my hands". As a microbiologist I don't like the idea of putting a 100 million fecal bacteria on my hands (when I'm washing them, when I'm trying to remove them).

QUESTION: What is the difference between SANITARY SEALEDâ„¢ Systems and open refillable bulk soap dispensers?

DR. GERBA: (see response below)

A sealed system is sealed at the factory during manufacturing where the bulk system is actually refilled at the facility. It may actually be diluted with water and may be contaminated from the water and people putting their fingers in the soap. That doesn't happen with a sealed system.

QUESTION: Will stainless steel help control the growth of bacteria?

DR. GERBA: (see response below)

Stainless steel will not actually control microbial growth. They are very easy surfaces to clean. They won't control microbial growth.

QUESTION: What is the responsibility of the industry with regard to the contamination issues surrounding bulk soap dispensers?

DR. GERBA: (see response below)

I think the industry that supplies bulk soap should promote the use of sealed containers and not reusable fillable containers. I think it's their responsibility to do that.

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