Holiday shopping is in full swing and with it the busiest time of the year for retail spending on consumer products. From holiday decorations to the latest winter fashions and buzzworthy toys, consumer demand is high. In the excitement to bring their products on shelves in time to meet this demand, product safety requirements should not be overlooked.
The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (“CCPSA”)dictates the minimum safety requirements for most consumer products. Some consumer products, which present a greater risk due to their composition and/or intended use, may be the subject of additional safety requirements under more targeted legislation, such as cosmetics, food, and disinfectant cleaning products.
Various regulations are promulgated under CCPSA, which set out the safety standards that specific types of consumer products must meet. This includes among others:
- Mandatory safety labelling under the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations;
- Flammability requirements under the Textile Flammability Regulations; and
- Various safety requirements for different classes of toys under the Toys Regulations.
In addition, apart from non-compliance with regulated standards, CCPSA imposes a general safety requirement on importers and manufacturers who must not market a consumer product that “is a danger to health and safety”. Regulated parties may be required to stop selling a product that poses an unacceptable safety risk.
In general, compliance is monitored through mandatory industry incident reporting requirements. Specifically, all manufacturers, importers, or sellers are required to file an incident report with Health Canada within two days of learning of an “incident” in relation to a consumer product they have manufactured, imported, or sold into Canada. An incident is defined in the CCPSA to include
- An occurrence that resulted or may reasonably been expected to result in death or serious adverse effects;
- A defect or characteristic that resulted or may reasonably been expected to result in death or serious adverse effects;
- Incorrect or insufficient labelling that resulted or may reasonably been expected to result in death or serious adverse effects; or
- A recall or safety measure taken by among others any “foreign entity”.
Products marketed in Canada that fail to meet CCPSA requirements are at high risk of product recall. Numerous products have been recalled in Canada due to failure to comply with these regulations (for a complete list of recalled products see Health Canada’s Recall and Safety Alert Database). For example, many synthetic Christmas trees and other holiday lighting features have been recalled as posing a fire hazard. These products were recalled without any indication of non-compliance with a particular prescribed safety standard. Rather, the recall resulted from an “incident” in relation to the item, i.e. a defect or characteristic, insufficient safety labeling, and/or recalls or corrective measures taken in a foreign jurisdiction.
Oftentimes industry members learn of possible incidents from consumer complaints or third-party testing. Once the information, is received industry members are required to determine if an “incident” has occurred within the meaning of CCPSA and if so file the requisite report in a timely fashion. Working cooperatively with Health Canada to correct any safety risks identified for a consumer product post-market may reduce the risk of severe penalties being imposed.
For more information on incident reporting or if you have questions regarding a potential incident please contact Yulia Konarski (firstname.lastname@example.org).