All Children’s Products Soon to Require Permanent Identification Labels

March 4, 2009 — By

Section 103 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), “Tracking Labels for Children’s Products,” amends US laws regarding Product Certification and Labeling (15 U.S.C. 2063).  (A redlined version of Section 2063, showing all changes imposed by the CPSIA is available here.)

As amended, beginning August 14, 2009, product labeling laws will require manufacturers of all children’s products to place permanent identification labels on both the packaging and the actual product, “to the extent practicable.” The new labels are to include information that will allow a consumer to identify the name of the manufacturer or private labeler, when and where the product was made, and any additional information necessary to distinguish the product from a similar item, such as the number of a production run.

As was the case before the CPSIA passed, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has the right to require private labelers to also include information on product labels that will enable a retailer to identify and, upon request, reveal to consumers the actual manufacturer.  Additionally, under section 2063, the CPSC maintains the authority to require certain products to include labels that specify which safety standards apply to the product and a certification that the product does in fact comply. Bicycle helmets are a good example of where the CPSC has exercised its authority regarding mandatory labels (image here).

Section 103 is one of the shortest sections of the CPSIA, which may actually make it one of the more challenging sections for the CPSC, as Congress specified few details regarding implementation of the new requirements.  Phrases like “to the extent practicable” are not defined, and the types of “cohort” and “other information” that ought to be included on the labels are vague.

Recognizing the challenge before them, the CPSC has issued a request for comments and information on just about every aspect of the new labeling laws, from what should be considered practicable to whether or not the US should work to help develop and adopt a uniform, international product-labeling system.  Addressing the latter, the CPSC directs interested persons to:  “Feasibility Study: Postmanufacturing Traceability System between the PRC and the EU, November 2008,” though the CPSC is careful to note that it does not necessarily agree with or endorse the study.

Comments are due to the CPSC by April 27, 2009. They can be emailed to: TrackingLabels@cpsc.gov .   More details on the specific information sought and how to fax, phone or mail comments can be found here.

The CPSC also announced today that a meeting will be held on March 18, 2009 to discuss a proposed action plan for the development of a global traceability system.  More information about the meeting can be found on the Consumer Product Safety Information Calendar.

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