updated 9/19/2007 9:29:55 AM ET 2007-09-19T13:29:55

Federal health officials have warned Procter & Gamble Co. that it is unlawfully marketing a new hand sanitizer aimed for use by children.

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Company claims that Vicks Early Defense Foaming Hand Sanitizer prevents colds and provides up to three hours of antimicrobial activity are not allowed, the Food and Drug Administration warned in a letter made public Tuesday.

The FDA said it knows of no significant health risks associated with the product but that it’s concerned because the product has not been proven safe and effective for the claims made by P&G.

The company believes the claims are legitimate and comply with FDA regulations, P&G spokesman David Bernens said. It will work with FDA to clear up any misconceptions, he added.

P&G introduced the hand sanitizer in August, Bernens said. It is meant to be rubbed into the hands and left on when soap and water are not available. It contains triclosan, an antimicrobial compound.

Under the proposed FDA standards for antimicrobial products that use triclosan, their labeling must direct consumers to rinse with water after use, the agency said in a separate news release.

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