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.

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

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

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.

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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