Selling consumer products and cosmetics online: Information for online marketplaces and online sellers
This document offers best practices for online marketplaces and online sellers of consumer products and cosmetics to help them:
- prevent, detect and respond to product safety issues;
- improve co-operation with Health Canada; and
- empower consumers on product safety issues.
Product safety is in everyone's best interest. Unsafe products can cause serious injuries to consumers, and in the worst cases, lead to death. Children and the elderly can be particularly vulnerable.
No matter where you are located in the world, if you operate an online marketplace or sell consumer products or cosmetics to Canadian consumers online, be aware of Canadian product safety laws and regulations and comply with them.
The information in this document is not intended to substitute, supersede, or limit the requirements under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act or Food and Drugs Act. In case of any discrepancy between this document and the legislation, the legislation will prevail. The examples provided in this document do not represent an exhaustive means of complying with the legislation.
This document provides information about the safety requirements that apply under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Food and Drugs Act.
Please note that other federal, provincial, territorial and municipal laws may also regulate consumer products or their use. Information about these laws may be obtained by contacting the relevant jurisdiction directly.
This document may be updated from time to time without notice. For the most recent version, consult the consumer product safety reports.
Whether you are an online seller or are hosting third-party sellers through your online marketplace, here are some actions you can take to help increase the safety of products you advertise, sell or supply online.
Prevent, detect and respond to product safety issues
Prevent consumer product and cosmetic product safety issues
- Familiarize yourself and comply with the applicable Canadian consumer product safety and cosmetics legislation.
- Visit Health Canada's website to find industry guidance on the Canadian federal requirements for consumer products and cosmetics.
- Subscribe to email updates about consumer product laws and to the cosmetics mailing list and encourage your suppliers and third-party sellers to do the same.
- Provide suppliers and third-party sellers of products sold to Canadians with information on Canadian product safety requirements.
- Request safety compliance information (e.g., test reports, safety certifications) from suppliers and third-party sellers to satisfy Canadian regulatory requirements for consumer products and cosmetics.
Detect and respond to consumer product and cosmetic product safety issues
- Subscribe to and monitor the Canadian recalls and safety alerts site and international recall sites such as the OECD Global Portal on Product Recalls in order to be notified of recalled products and take action as appropriate.
- Set up processes and mechanisms, such as algorithms and filters, to identify prohibited, recalled and other non-compliant products to prevent or stop their sale on your platform.
- Monitor your platform on a regular basis to identify product safety issues.
- Investigate and take action on product safety-related issues identified by consumers, Health Canada or others.
- Consider sanctioning third-party sellers that contravene their consumer product safety obligations, including banning sellers for repeated non-compliance.
Co-operate with Health Canada
- Establish a clear contact point within your organization for Health Canada information requests and notifications.
- Contact Health Canada if you need to conduct a recall or have identified safety issues with a product.
- Comply with incident reporting requirements for consumer products.
- Voluntarily report incidents involving cosmetic products.
- Co-operate with Health Canada and, if you are an online marketplace, encourage third-party sellers on your platform to do the same to:
- respond to information requests from Health Canada in a timely manner; and
- react quickly to requests from Health Canada to remove listings of unsafe products.
Empower consumers on product safety issues
- Provide clear and accurate product descriptions, good quality product images, ingredient lists, labels, instructions for use, warnings and certification information, as applicable, in French and English.
- Provide a clear means for consumers to report an injury or product defect to you, the third-party seller and to Health Canada.
- Make sure your contact information, and in the case of an online marketplace, the third-party seller's name, location and contact details are visible.
- Respond promptly to consumers' product safety concerns related to products sold on your platform and, if you are an online marketplace, encourage third-party sellers on your platform to do the same.
- Inform consumers directly and promptly when a product they purchased through your platform is recalled.
Consumer product and cosmetic product safety laws in Canada
This section provides information about the safety requirements that apply under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Food and Drugs Act. Other federal, provincial, territorial and municipal laws may also regulate consumer products, cosmetic products or their use. Information about these laws may be obtained by contacting the relevant jurisdiction directly.
The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) and its regulations help protect the public from dangers to health or safety posed by consumer products in Canada. The Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and its Cosmetic Regulations establish a framework to protect the public from health or safety risks posed by cosmetics in Canada. Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety Program (CPSP) administers and enforces the CCPSA and its regulations and the cosmetic provisions of the FDA and its Cosmetic Regulations.
The CCPSA applies to you if you manufacture, package, label, test, import, advertise or sell/distribute consumer products to consumers in Canada.
The FDA and the Cosmetic Regulations apply to you if you manufacture, package, label, import for sale, advertise, or sell/distribute cosmetics to consumers in Canada.
The laws apply to both new and used consumer products and cosmetics.
In broad terms, regulated parties are responsible for:
- understanding their obligations under the relevant laws;
- complying with all applicable requirements;
- ensuring the safety of their products;
- taking timely and appropriate action to correct non-compliance; and
- responding to inspector's requests for information or action.
Refer to the applicable legislation for complete and detailed information regarding legal obligations under the CCPSA and its regulations, and the cosmetic provisions of the FDA and its Cosmetic Regulations.
Health Canada has created guides to help understand legislative requirements. For further information refer to the resources below or contact a regional Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone at 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States).
Federal Consumer Product and Cosmetic Product Safety Legislation
- Portal for Government of Canada recalls and safety alerts
- General information on incident reporting, recalls and alerts, cosmetic information, product safety education and consumer product requirements
- Report consumer product or cosmetic safety concerns or incidents to Health Canada
- Subscribe for email updates about the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
- Subscribe to email updates on cosmetic safety
- CCPSA quick reference guide
- Various guides for industry related to consumer products in Canada
- Various guides for industry related to cosmetics and personal care in Canada
- Information for Regulated Parties on the Enforcement Approach for the General Prohibitions under the CCPSA
Appendix 1: Definitions
Consumer product: Under the CCPSA, a consumer product means a "product, including its components, parts or accessories, that may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes, including for domestic, recreational and sports purposes, and includes its packaging." Schedule 1 of the Act lists products to which the Act does not apply. Examples of these products are explosives, cosmetics, drugs, food, medical devices, and ammunition, all of which are regulated under other legislation.
Cosmetic: Under the FDA, a cosmetic includes "any substance or mixture of substances, manufactured, sold or represented for use in cleansing, improving or altering the complexion, skin, hair or teeth and includes deodorants and perfumes."
Online marketplace: A type of online sales platform that facilitates e-commerce transactions between third-party sellers and consumers.
Third-party sellers: Domestic and foreign parties that use online marketplaces (that are not their own) to advertise and sell their goods.
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