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Consumer Product Safety

Glazed Ceramics and Glassware Regulations - Dealer Information

Table of Contents

Introduction

This document provides information about the safety requirements that apply under the Glazed Ceramic and Glassware Regulations to Glazed Ceramic and Glassware manufactured, imported, advertised or sold in Canada.

This document is an unofficial summary of safety requirements for Glazed Ceramic and Glassware under the Glazed Ceramic and Glassware Regulations. It is not intended to substitute for, supersede or limit the requirements under the applicable legislation. In case of any discrepancy between this summary and the legislation, the legislation will prevail. For further information, contact a Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office via email (cps-spc@hc-sc.gc.ca) or telephone at 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States).

To obtain information on the legislative requirements for Glazed Ceramic and Glassware not covered in this document, refer to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its Regulations listed under Information Resources.

This document may be updated from time to time. For the most recent version, consult Health Canada's website.

Background

Lead and cadmium are heavy metals. Lead glazes have traditionally been used on ceramic and glassware products because they are easy to use, provide a wide choice of colours and finishes, and give a smooth, bright look to the glazed product. Cadmium is sometimes used to give a light yellow or orange colour to glazes.

Lead and cadmium are very toxic and can cause serious health problems, especially to children. Lead affects the nervous system, and can cause mental symptoms like depression, forgetfulness, and confusion. Even small amounts of lead can cause learning and behaviour problems in children. Lead also harms the kidneys and blood system. Because lead builds up in the body, ongoing exposure to small amounts of lead can result in large amounts of lead being stored in the body. At high doses, lead causes seizures, coma, and death.


Fig. 1 unglazed plate back with glazed edge


Fig. 2 drinking glass with decorative glazing


Fig. 3 glazed ceramic tagine


Fig. 4 glazed ceramic spoon

Exposure to low amounts of cadmium can cause kidney damage and weak bones. At higher amounts, cadmium causes vomiting, nausea, stomach pains, diarrhea, dizziness, and muscle cramps. Exposure to high levels of cadmium over a short period will cause shock, collapse, and sometimes death.

Exposure to Lead from Glazed Ceramic and Glassware Products

There is no risk of exposure from handling glass and ceramic products that have lead or cadmium in their glazes. However, if products with lead or cadmium in their glazes are used to prepare, serve or store food (including drinks) the lead or cadmium can leach out of the glaze and enter the food. Anyone who eats or drinks the food will be taking lead or cadmium into their bodies. Lead and cadmium dissolve more easily from worn, cracked or chipped surfaces. They also dissolve more easily into hot foods and into food which have a high acid content, like fruit juices and alcoholic beverages. The longer the food remains in contact with the product, the more lead or cadmium will move into the food.

Glazed Ceramics and Glassware Regulations (GCGR)

These Regulations protect the Canadian public by setting legal limits on the amount of leachable lead or cadmium in all glazed ceramic or glass foodware products. The Regulations apply to all glazed ceramic and glass products imported, advertised or sold in Canada that are intended to be used or may be used in the storing, preparing, or serving of food, including drinks.

Almost all ceramic foodware products sold in Canada are glazed.

The GCGR do not cover unglazed glass foodware products. However, glass drinking vessels which are not coated with a glaze but do have exterior decorative glazing within 20 millimeters of the lip or rim must meet the leachable lead and cadmium limits for lip and rim.

The amounts of lead or cadmium that could be released from a glazed ceramic or glass foodware product are affected by the size and shape of the product. For this reason, the maximum legal limits for leachable lead and cadmium under the GCGR are different for different sizes and shapes of products. The table below summarizes the limits for leachable lead and cadmium in glazed ceramic and glass foodware:
Type of Product Leachable Lead Limit (milligrams per litre) Leachable Cadmium Limit (milligrams per litre)
Flatware 3 0.50
Cups and mugs 0.50 0.50
Small hollowware, other than cups and mugs 2 0.50
Large hollowware, other than pitchers 1 0.25
Pitchers 0.50 0.25

See Appendix I for definitions of foodware types mentioned in the above table.

In addition to these requirements, there are leachable lead and cadmium limits under the GCGR for distinctive exterior decorative patterns within 20 mm of the rim or lip of a drinking vessel. These limits are 4.0 milligram per litre for lead (reduced from 25 mg/L by a 2005 amendment to the GCGR) and 0.4 mg/L for cadmium (reduced from 1.75 mg/L by a 2005 amendment to the GCGR).


Fig. 5 ceramic pitcher


Fig. 6 ceramic cup and saucer with decorative glazing


Fig. 7 glazed ceramic table plate


Fig. 8 glazed serving bowl


Fig. 9 small glazed dish

Ornamental Glazed Ceramic and Glassware Products

Products which are intended for ornamental use only are not required to meet the leachable lead and cadmium limits of the GCGR, but they must have a permanent design feature or warning indicating that the product is not suitable for food use.


Fig. 10 drinking glass with decorative glazing near rim


Fig. 11 drinking mug with decorative glazing near rim

Permanent design features include:

1. A hole placed so that food cannot be contained in the product

2. A mounting hook or holder which remains attached to the product for its lifetime under normal conditions of use and cleaning

Glued-on hooks, removable plate holders, and similar features which are not a permanent part of the product do not meet the requirements of the GCGR.


Fig. 12 bowl with permanent ring


Fig. 13 plate with permanent hanger

Warnings must be displayed in both official languages and in letters that are 3 millimetres or more in height. Wording must be as below, or a similar text as appropriate:

DANGER! CONTAINS LEAD - CONTIENT DU PLOMB
DO NOT USE FOR FOOD - NE PAS UTILISER POUR LES ALIMENTS

DANGER! CONTAINS CADMIUM - CONTIENT DU CADMIUM
DO NOT USE FOR FOOD - NE PAS UTILISER POUR LES ALIMENTS

DANGER! CONTAINS LEAD AND CADMIUM - CONTIENT DU PLOMB ET DU CADMIUM
DO NOT USE FOR FOOD - NE PAS UTILISER POUR LES ALIMENTS


Fig. 14 example of warning label

A warning is considered permanent if it is engraved, stamped, or printed on the product.

Appendix A: Definitions

ceramic product:
product made of clay and permanently hardened by heat
cups and mugs:
small hollowware used for drinking liquids
drinking vessel:
any hollowware from which one can drink liquids
flatware:
a product that has an inner depth of 25 millimetres or less, measured vertically from the lowest inside point to the point of overflow
foodware:
any product that is used or may be used in preparing, serving or storing food, including drinks
glass:
a hard, easily broken material made by heating silica sand, or sometimes another material, to very high temperatures
glaze:
a coating on ceramic or glass products
hollowware:
a product that has a depth of 25 millimetres or more, measured vertically from the lowest inside point to the point of overflow
large hollowware:
hollowware that hold 1.1 litre or more, other than pitchers
leachable lead, leachable cadmium:
amount of total lead or cadmium that can be dissolved out of a foodware product into a food contained in the product
permanent warning:
a warning that remains legible and attached to the product for the lifetime of the product under normal conditions of use and cleaning
pitcher:
a large hollowware vessel that is used for storing and serving liquids; creamers, coffeepots, and teapots are not included in this definition
small hollowware:
hollowware that holds less than 1.1 litre

Appendix B: Information Resources

NOTICE: For further information visit the resources below or contact a Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office via email (cps-spc@hc-sc.gc.ca) or telephone at 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States).

Next link will take you to another Web site Canada Consumer Product Safety Act

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Guidance on Mandatory Incident Reporting under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act - Section 14 Duties in the Event of an Incident