Online Shopping: Product Safety

Learn how to be a smart shopper and keep safety in mind when buying consumer products and cosmetics online.

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Safety Tips for Consumers

When buying online, remember to CHECK for safety:

  • Confirm the product hasn’t been recalled. Check out the Recalls and alerts database for consumer products and cosmetics.
  • Help others - report unsafe consumer products or cosmetics you see online!
  • Explore whether the consumer product or cosmetic is prohibited from sale in Canada.
  • Check for product warnings, safety messages, instructions, age recommendations and certifications.
  • Know who you’re buying from – check out the vendor’s location, contact information, history and policies, and look for reputable reviews and ratings. Learn how to spot an unsafe website.

Remember to:

  • Register consumer products with the manufacturers to receive safety updates.
  • Subscribe to Health Canada’s recall notices.

What to do if you have a product safety concern

If you experience a health or safety problem with a consumer product:

  • Submit a consumer incident form to Health Canada.
  • Report it to the manufacturer or retailer that you bought from.

If you bought a consumer product that has been recalled:

If you bought a consumer product that is not permitted for sale in Canada:

  • Contact the vendor to arrange for return, if possible.
  • Dispose of the product safely.

Risks of buying online

Unlike buying consumer products and cosmetics in person, when buying products online, you can’t see the physical product. It can be more difficult to tell if the product is:

  • prohibited,
  • counterfeit,
  • not as advertised,
  • of poor quality,
  • recalled,
  • mislabelled,
  • uncertified,
  • broken or does not work as it should.

Do not buy or use electrical products that plug into an electrical outlet without a Canadian certification mark.

Be aware of dark patterns and potentially unfair or deceptive practices built into a web page's user experience. Learn to spot them and protect yourself.

Health Canada's role

  • In Canada, consumer products are regulated under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and cosmetics are regulated under the Food and Drugs Act. Both laws include prohibitions on the sale of products that may pose a risk to health or safety. These laws apply to products manufactured in or imported into Canada.
  • Consumer and cosmetic products in Canada are not approved or tested prior to being made available on the market. Health Canada monitors the marketplace and takes action when and where it identifies an issue. This is similar to other jurisdictions around the world.
  • The Department works in collaboration with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to prevent the import of prohibited, dangerous and non-compliant products.

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