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Net Contents of a Cosmetic: The ‘E’ Mark and Units of Measure
By: David C. Steinberg, Steinberg & Associates
Posted: December 1, 2009, from the December 2009 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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The FDA further states: A separate statement of the net quantity of contents in terms of the metric system is not regarded as a supplemental statement and an accurate statement of the net quantity of contents in terms of the metric system of weight or measure may also appear on the principal display panel or on other panels.3
For OTC drugs, the content of each dose must be listed in metric units next to the drug name in the Drug Facts box.4 If the drug has no dose restrictions—for example, topically applied sunscreens, dandruff shampoos, etc.—then the percentage present in the formulation should be used. The FPLA requires net contents be listed on both the PDP and the actual bottle or container.5
Besides weight metric requirements, there are font size requirements. The type size is restricted to being no less than 1/16 in when the PDP has an area of 5 in2 or less. In the case of PDPs between 5 in2 and 25 in2, the type size cannot be less than 1/8 in, and if PDPs are between 25 in2 and 100 in2, the type size cannot be less than 3/16 in. For PDPs larger than 100 in2, the type size must be at least 1/4 in and for PDPs larger than 400 in2, at least 1/2 in.6 Table 1 shows these restrictions in metric terms.
Net Quantities in Canada
Unlike US regulations, Canada’s Food and Drugs Act regulates the ingredient declarations of a cosmetic product rather than the net quantity of ingredients present by weight or volume. The net quantity of ingredients is instead regulated by the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act, a statute enforced by the Competition Bureau of Canada.
Certain provinces in Canada such as Quebec require product labels to be printed in both French and English, including net quantity. While a suitable metric symbol is considered bilingual and may be listed as the unit of measure, the use of complete words typically calls for a translation—however, if the correct bilingual abbreviations are used, translation is not required. The correct bilingual abbreviations are listed in Table 2.