Strategically the non-profit is focused on four initiatives: working to ensure consumer products don’t contain toxins, stopping climate change and creating clean energy jobs, developing livable cities, and protecting Canada’s freshwater, according to environmentaldefence.ca.
Current protocol deemed insufficient
The new report is part of that first initiative and aggregates data—some from focus groups convened by the organization itself—that suggests more stringent product labeling is desired and would be beneficial to consumers. “Canadian law does not require cleaning products and many cosmetics to feature a complete ingredient list,” points out Muhannad Malas, toxics program manager at Environmental Defence, in a media release announcing the newly published report, FULL DISCLOSURE: The case for stronger household product labelling.
“Canada is falling behind the European Union and U.S. jurisdictions like California when it comes to product labelling and ingredient disclosure,” Malas warns. Concluding that, “Canadians deserve stronger labelling rules that enable them to avoid toxic chemicals that put their health, families and environment at risk.”
Ingredients and testing implicated
One study the Environmental Defence report draws from is a 2016 audit by Canada’s Environmental Commissioner. The Full Disclosure report highlights what the audit found to be “inadequate and lax regulatory enforcement by Health Canada with regards to safety testing of cosmetics and personal care products."
That audit also, apparently, noted that product ingredient listings are commonly incomplete, “emphasizing that the ‘fragrance’ component of a product’s ingredient list may consist of a myriad of chemical ingredients that have been shown to pose health risks to humans,” as the Environmental Defence’s Full Disclosure report words it.
The report compares and contrasts labeling policies from Canada, the European Union, and the state of California; and it identifies three key findings:
- “Current labels do not protect the health of consumers.”
- “False belief that product ingredients are tested and safe.”
- “Consumers need full ingredient disclosure, warning labels.”