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Health Canada relaxes labelling policy on cleaning products and soaps


April 20, 2020, Ottawa, Ont. – In light of the unprecedented demand and urgent need for products that can help fight COVID-19 – including household cleaning products, hand soaps and body soaps – as an interim policy, Health Canada is facilitating access to products that may not fully meet current regulatory requirements.

In Canada, household cleaning products are classified as consumer products and covered under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA). Hand soaps and body soaps are cosmetics regulated under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA). These products are typically subject to various regulatory requirements, such as bilingual labelling.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Canada has implemented an interim policy to facilitate access to household cleaning products, hand soaps and body soaps that are not fully compliant with existing regulatory requirements (e.g., unilingual labelling, the ingredients listed on the label are not listed exactly as outlined in the regulations). However, the interim policy does not change the enforcement priority for all other regulatory requirements under the applicable regulations that apply to household cleaning products and hand soaps and body soaps.

Health Canada will continue to update Canadians on any further efforts to increase supplies of cleaning products that may be used to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the pandemic situation is resolved, Health Canada will again enforce all labelling requirements for these products on the market.

Information for manufacturers and importers:

  • To import products under this interim policy, importers are required to fill out a form and email it to [email protected] before importing.
  • Importers must also provide to Health Canada and make available on their website the label text, with required safety information, as per the CCPSA or FDA, as appropriate, in both official languages, and any required hazard symbols.
  • Prioritize the distribution of any products with bilingual or French-only labels to regions of Canada where the population mainly speaks and understands French.

Information for consumers:

  • Continue to purchase household cleaning products, hand soaps and body soaps as you have been while practising physical distancing. This interim policy will help ensure that adequate supply continues to be available in Canada. The risk to Canadians of allowing non-compliant labels is low, as long as consumers use these products as directed.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food.
  • When cleaning and disinfecting, never mix household chemicals. Some mixtures can produce harmful gases. Avoid poisoning by reading and following the directions on cleaning products before using them.
  • Consult the Health Canada website for links to compliant labels in both official languages from industry websites.
  • Report any incidents involving consumer products or cosmetics to Health Canada.
  • Follow the Public Health Agency of Canada’s advice on preventing coronavirus.

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