In my quest to find a safe, natural way to disinfect in the home, I thought I had found it, tucked inside a grapefruit! Grapefruit seed extract manufacturers claim their all natural product is a potent natural germ killer, that it is non-toxic, biodegradable and very effective against over a thousand bacteria, virus and fungi strains, including E. Coli and salmonella. They claim that it can be used instead of chlorine in swimming pools, for sterilizing operating rooms, and as an additive to fish and poultry feed to fight the spread of lethal bacteria. According to the label, it can be used both externally and internally.
But wait! When I researched the peer-reviewed science, I found quite a different story. Independent research shows that grapefruit seed extract by itself has no intrinsic antimicrobial action. None! The proclaimed antimicrobial properties are actually derived from the preservatives added to the grapefruit seed extract products. The synthetic preservatives include methyl paraben (an estrogen mimic), triclosan (a potential endocrine disruptor and allergen), benzalkonium chloride (an asthma trigger and skin and eye irritant) and benzethonium chloride (an asthma trigger and skin and eye irritant). You can read the sad story here.