IN THE NEWS ~ Consumers deserve toxin ingredient labels

Burnaby Now

It seems a fairly simple request: If there's a potentially toxic ingredient in it, put it on the label.

MP Peter Julian recently tabled a private member's bill asking for legislation to force companies to do just that. It's a step that environmental groups like Toxic Free Canada (see story page 3) have been pushing politicians to take for years.

Many standard household products - such as bathroom cleaners or cosmetics - use ingredients that are known carcinogens or endocrine-disruptors or that impact reproductive health.

And, though those ingredients may make up only a fraction of the final product, the fact remains that they're there.

Consumers have the right to know what ingredients are in the products they bring home and to determine for themselves which products they may want to avoid or which they are comfortable with.

We suppose the argument from the business sector may be that such legislation causes unnecessary alarm, creates extra red tape and hits the bottom line - but history has shown that the market is incredibly flexible.

When Health Canada decided last year that babies and toddlers shouldn't be using bottles with bisphenol-A in them, it took only a few weeks for stores to pull products from their shelves and for new and safer products to be stocked and ready for sale.

At the end of the day, a confident consumer - one who feels like they are armed with the information they need and trusts that companies are putting out safe products - is also a consumer who spends. In the long run, such legislation can only help, not hurt, the market.

More importantly, it can also help the health and safety of millions of Canadians who should, quite simply, have the right to know what they're buying.

© Burnaby Now 2009