Labelling of hand sanitizers, disinfectants, soaps and cleaning products in the context of the COVID-19 response

According to Statistics Canada, demand for hand sanitizer increased by 735% for the week ending March 14, 2020, relative to the same period last yearFootnote 1. At the same time, the demand for disinfectants, household cleaners, hand and body soaps, and workplace cleaners rose considerably, as they are also effective in combating the spread of COVID-19.

In light of the unprecedented demand and urgent need for disinfectants and hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic, an interim measure was put in place to facilitate expedited and broad access to products that do not fully meet regulatory requirements under the Food and Drugs Act. A large number of companies that were not importing or manufacturing hand sanitizers and disinfectants have expressed interest in doing so to support the COVID-19 response efforts.

In March and April 2020, Health Canada implemented a number of interim policies to facilitate expedited access to products that do not fully meet regulatory requirements (for example, labelling or package sizes) set out in regulations under the Food and Drugs Act, the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Hazardous Products Act. These interim policies were implemented to address an increase in demand and urgent need due to the COVID-19 pandemic for household cleaning products, hand soaps and body soaps, and cleaning products used in workplaces.

The interim policies include facilitating the importation of disinfectants and hand sanitizers as well as cleaning products, hand soaps and body soaps.

Disinfectants and hand sanitizers

Cleaning products, hand soaps and body soaps

These interim measures have enabled access to the Canadian marketplace, health care settings, and commercial and industrial settings.

There remains a shortage for most of these products at all levels, including hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities, commercial and industrial settings, as well as at the retail level. Health Canada will lift interim measures when the regular supply stabilizes.  

Health Canada is tracking all the companies that are using unilingual labels and will be able to inform them when it lifts the interim policies.

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