Canadian Cosmetic Ingredient Labeling

The global harmonization of ingredient labeling is forever a dream that formulators will chase as new regulations are accepted and product labels are changed accordingly to meet each country’s specifi cations. In November 2004, Health Canada issued new cosmetics ingredient labeling requirements. 1 Before they were issued, Canada did not require ingredient declarations on labels. If ingredients were listed, formulators faced the unique challenge posed by French language laws in the province of Quebec—if a U.S.-approved label was used, the label needed translating into French, including all International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) designations.

Health Canada proposed national regulations which would supersede the local provincial laws to prevent these awkward translations. INCI designations were offi cially declared by Health Canada to be more like “symbols” than the English language (which would have necessitated a French translation). After many meetings and endless debates in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, the fi nal rules were issued. The results will please no one and these regulations will keep many consultants engaged for the next 18 months as cosmetic companies who wish to sell their products in Canada try to understand these compromised regulations. 

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