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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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Canada mandates that a product be labeled by volume when it is a liquid, gas or viscous substance. When the product is a solid, it should be labeled by weight. Further, a non-metric declaration of net quantity may be provided; however, this information is considered supplementary to the main declaration and it must not be false or misleading to the consumer.
For example, supplementary declarations using American gallons, which are smaller than Canadian gallons, could be misleading to the consumer. In addition, US fluid ounces, which are slightly larger than Canadian fluid ounces, could also be misleading. The label therefore must first list the main declaration in metric units and may then be followed by the supplemental, non-metric units with an indication that the amount is expressed in American gallons, e.g.: 3.79 L (1 gallon US) or 591 mL (20 fl. oz. US).
It should be noted that Canada requires a space between the number and abbreviation, making “100mL” incorrect and “100 mL” correct. Expressions such as “net,” “net weight,” “net contents,” or “net quantity” are not necessary.
Net Contents and the ‘E’ Mark in the EU
Article 6 of the Cosmetic Directive indicates: The nominal content at the time of packaging, given by weight or by volume, except in the case of packaging containing less than five grams or five milliliters, free samples, and single-application packs; for prepackages normally sold as a number of items, for which details of weight or volume are not significant, the content need not be given provided the number of items appears on the packaging.
All net contents listed on EU product labels must use the metric system, but the EU has allowed dual labeling using both the metric and American systems, so long as the metric measurement is listed first. While this practice was to expire in 2009, on June 26, 2007, the EU Commission recommended that dual units be allowed indefinitely. On March 11, 2009, dual labeling was extended to 2019.