CPSC Provides Guidance on Children’s Product Labeling Requirements

July 31, 2009

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a policy statement regarding the tracking label requirements set to take effect in a few weeks. The Statement of Policy: Interpretation and Enforcement of Section 103(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act clarified how the Commission intends to enforce this section; and focused on allaying the concerns of manufacturers and importers of children's products. Click here to view the complete policy statement (PDF - 30.7KB).

Beginning August 14, 2009, one year after the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was enacted; Section 103(a) of the CPSIA will mandate that manufacturers, and importers, of all children's products must place "distinguishing marks" on all children's products and their packaging to enable the manufacturer and the ultimate purchaser to ascertain certain source and production information. The tracking label requirements will not apply to products made before August 14, 2009.

These markings are meant to "aid in determining the origin of the product and the cause of recall." This section was enacted in response to difficulty some manufacturers, retailers and the ultimate consumers experienced when attempting to ascertain the manufacturer or private labeler, location and date of production of products that were recalled in the summer of 2007.

In response to concerns raised by the industry in a comment period that began in February 2009, the CPSC appears to be willing to give manufacturers the benefit of the doubt if a manufacturer is acting in good faith to comply with the new labeling requirements.

The CPSC said it would not immediately require a uniform "one-size-fits-all" labeling system, and expected only that manufacturers would "use their best judgment to develop markings that best suit their business and product."

Further CPSC policy statement noted that "given good faith efforts by manufacturers to educate themselves on the requirements of Section 103(a) and to consider ways to apply it to their business, the commission will not likely seek penalties if required information was inadvertently omitted."

But as time passes and technology develops, the agency said it may consider the need for a more uniform system.

Section 103(a) mandates that the distinguishing marks will track (1) the location of production (2) the date of production and (3) ensure cohort information for that product is ascertainable. Overall, the information should allow the manufacturer to determine the specific source of each product.

For more information on how to comply with this and other CPSIA requirements, please contact Michael Yarbrough, Beth Naylor, Erika Schoenberger, Joe Walker or any other Frost Brown Todd Product Liability attorney.