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Auditor general finds Health Canada not testing cosmetics regularly, no power to recall

Click to play video: 'Cosmetics do not undergo Health Canada testing prior to hitting store shelves' Cosmetics do not undergo Health Canada testing prior to hitting store shelves
Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development Julie Gelfand's spring report revealed Tuesday that Health Canada does not test cosmetics before they become available for consumer purchase – May 31, 2016

OTTAWA – A federal audit says Health Canada doesn’t regularly test cosmetics for harmful or prohibited substances and there’s no legal requirement to report adverse health and safety incidents — unlike other consumer products.

The report from Julie Gelfand, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, finds that millions of consumers lack the information to make informed choices about the makeup, creams and other beauty products they use.

WATCH: Health Canada denied mandatory safety reporting for cosmetics in 2012

Click to play video: 'Health Canada denied mandatory safety reporting for cosmetics in 2012' Health Canada denied mandatory safety reporting for cosmetics in 2012
Health Canada denied mandatory safety reporting for cosmetics in 2012 – May 31, 2016

And the growing electronic commerce market is only making the problem worse.

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The audit notes that Health Canada has no powers under the Food and Drug Act to order the recall of cosmetic products.

WATCH: Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development Julie Gelfand recommendations for Health Canada 

Click to play video: 'Cosmetic industry lacks mandatory testing, safety the onus of Canadian consumers' Cosmetic industry lacks mandatory testing, safety the onus of Canadian consumers
Cosmetic industry lacks mandatory testing, safety the onus of Canadian consumers – May 31, 2016

Gelfand recommends that Ottawa find a way to encourage manufacturers to provide a complete, confidential list of the secret ingredients in their fragrances, flavours and aromas in order to check them against known safety concerns.

READ MORE: Cosmetics company pulls ad showing actress in blackface with slogan: ‘You just need to be white to win’

And she says consumers need to be informed that marketing terms such as hypoallergenic, preservative-free, fragrance-free or unscented have no validity in terms of health and safety.

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