Health Canada attempts to lift cosmetic regulation confusion

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Health canada, Cosmetics

Health Canada has published a guidance document in order to
counterattack confusion regarding the regulation of ingredients in
cosmetics - a hot topic in the cosmetics industry at present.

The federal department has released the document on its website to elevate any concerns regarding the classification and regulation of products that may share characteristics of both cosmetics and drugs, as defined in the Food and Drugs Act. Acting as an administrative policy aimed to clarify how the department interprets and applies the definitions from the Food and Drug Act, the Guidance on the Classification of Products at the Cosmetic-Drug Interface document hopes to make life easier for cosmetic manufacturers struggling with unclear legislation. Encouraging feedback from viewers to the Health Canada website, the department has supplied an email address for readers to state whether they have found the document clear and understandable, whether it explains how classification decisions have to be made and if there are any other areas that the document should address. The move by Health Canada comes at a time where industry concerns are mounting regarding the lack of legislation in the cosmetics, cosmeceutical and natural and organic cosmetics industries. Many in the industry claim that efforts to sell genuinely natural- or organic-based personal care products are being hampered by a lack of cohesive and industry-wide certification that clearly identifies the fact that they comply with standards. Indeed, a recent report by market information providers Kline & Company mirrors mounting confusion among consumers and industry insiders relating to the many ways companies define their products as 'natural'. The report highlights that many brands are not being sold through audited certification channels, leaving consumers confused over what is and what is not natural. Indeed, the Kline report also highlights the fact that because the US currently has no official regulation for natural or organic personal care products, consumers are left vulnerable, with the industry as a whole left open to dubious claims concerning the authenticity of the products. It seems Europe is leading the pack in strict regulation with the recent implementation of the controversial Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) law. REACH replaces much of the current patchwork of over 40 pieces of EU legislation relating to chemicals, and means businesses will now need to prove the safety of thousands of chemicals previously not regulated. The new law also aims to encourage the replacement of hazardous chemicals with safer ones and to spur the chemical sector into researching and developing more new products. It is expected it will take about four years before the first substances are either registered or banned. Although it will be European companies that will be primarily hit by this regulations, global players, including many of the bigger names in the US, will also have to take careful note if they want to maintain their share of the pie by complying. Health Canada has proposed to continue its efforts in clearing up the confusing legislation with new product assessments coming into play in fall this year. The department will assess the criteria outlined in the Food and Drug Act in cosmetic-drug interface products such as acne treatments and toothpastes. It will establish whether the products are being reviewed under the 'appropriate regulatory regime' and if not, will determine which regime applies. Likewise it has an action plan lined up for any products that are affected by any revisions to classifications.

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