Detergent & Hand Soap Legislation (COVID-19)

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). First identified in 2019 in Wuhan China, this disease has since spread globally resulting in the current coronavirus pandemic. Communities around the world have been taking actions to minimize the spread of this deadly virus.

The Importance of Detergents and Hand Soaps

The novel coronavirus outbreak has had a severe affect on the production of phosphates and their prices in the global market. Many detergent and hand soap products are produced with phosphates which may be subject to new restrictions. Depending on the country and region of shipment additional disclosures may be required for chemical compliance and sale.

Changes in Detergent Regulation

USA & Canada Phosphate Restrictions

Companies looking to place detergents on the market will need to be aware of regulations restricting phosphate in cleaning products. Approximately half of the states in the USA have enacted phosphate restriction laws. Many states, including Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington, have put in place a ban on detergents containing more than 0.5% phosphate.

In addition to following state phosphate laws, companies must ensure that consumer cleaning products comply with the following legislations set out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

  • 16 C.F.R. 1500 of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA)
  • 16 C.F.R. 1700 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA)
  • 16 C.F.R. 500 of the Fair Packaging & Labeling Act (FPLA)

Similarly, detergents for sale in Canada must comply with the Concentration of phosphorus in cleaning products regulations. The regulations set out maximum allowable phosphorus concentration limits for specific product types. Household laundry detergents, cleaners, and dish washing compounds can have no more than 0.5% phosphorus. Additionally, household detergents sold in Canada must comply with the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations, 2001.

California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act (Bill SB 258)

As of 1 January 2020, there are new online disclosure requirements for chemical cleaning products sold in California for consumer and professional use. On-label disclosure requirements for the same products will come into force on 1 January 2021. The intent of Bill SB-258 is to provide consumers and workers with ingredient information about certain products that will encourage informed purchasing decisions and reduce the public health impacts from exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in designated products. The act currently only applies in California, but some industry associations are advocating to make this regulation de-facto national law in the USA.

Regulators have identified 22 lists which must be searched against the product formulation for chemicals of concern. The Act outlines specific website and label disclosure requirements for listed chemicals. Additionally, specific provisions are defined for fragrance allergens, non-functional constituents, and Proposition 65 chemicals.

In addition to the chemical names, information that is required to appear on the manufacturers website includes the CAS number and ingredient function for each component as well as the product safety data sheet (SDS) and links to the applicable designated lists.

Detergent Regulation (EC) No. 648/2004

In order to sell detergents in the EU, manufacturers must ensure that “preparations containing soaps and/or other surfactants intended for washing and cleaning processes” fulfill the provisions laid out in (EC) 648/2004 (Detergent Regulation).

Article 11 of Detergent Regulation outlines specific labeling requirements for cleaning products, which apply even when they are classified as non-hazardous. Required labelling includes the website address where the list of ingredients can be found. Specific chemical groups must be indicated on the label when they are present in the product above the 0.2 wt% (phosphates, surfactants, bleaching agents, and others). Enzymes, disinfectants, optical brighteners, and perfumes must be stated on the label regardless of concentration.

The regulation also describes biodegradability test requirements for surfactants, restricts phosphate in consumer laundry and dishwasher detergents, and obliges detergent manufacturers to make ingredient data sheets available to medical personnel upon request.

Changes to Hand and Body Soaps

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for household cleaning products, hand soaps and body soaps. These products are regulated under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) and the Food and Drugs Act (FDA). In order to facilitate the access and sales of certain consumer and cosmetic products, Health Canada has developed an interim policy.

The interim policy covers hand and body soaps, regulated as cosmetics under the FDA, used to clean the skin. The following are not covered:

  • Products that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or Natural Product Number (NPN)
  • Products where skin cleaning is not the main purpose

Under the policy, these cosmetics will not need to fully meet the requirements under the FDA. This includes:

  • The label may be in one official language
  • Ingredients listed on the label are not listed as outlined in the regulations

The interim policy does not change the priority for the other regulatory requirements under the applicable Regulations that apply to cosmetics. This includes labelling for avoidable hazards and prohibiting products that contain an ingredient that may cause injury. Requirements under the FDA, particularly sections 16-18, are still applicable to hand and body soaps.

Importers need to complete and email a form to Health Canada prior to import. This is available on the Health Canada website.

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