Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CPSIA Labeling Guidance Issued

Today, two very important documents were released by the CPSC regarding CPSIA.



As usual, I'm going to try to interpret these documents into lay terms. Please note, as always, this is only MY interpretation and I am not a lawyer. I'm just a person running a business selling children's products that is trying to read the law and comply to the best of my ability. See my first post on labeling requirements here: http://buggalove.blogspot.com/2009/06/labeling-requirements-for-cpsia.html

This guidance was much needed and for the micro-manufacturer/crafter I beleive it is very helpful to assist in determining the labeling requirements set forth in the CPSIA. I'm going to start with the policy itself.

Why do there need to be labels?
To establish a means for identifying the source of children’s products in order to improve the safety of such products. Discussing Section 103, the Report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee noted that it intended the Section to “aid in determining the origin of the product and the cause of recall”. If a manufacturer can identify the location, date of production, and such individualized information as the batch or run number, it can more readily isolate products that it or others may discover present a safety concern. Similarly, if a consumer can identify the manufacturer (or private labeler), location and date the product was made, and any more specific identifying information, he can more easily determine whether a product in the home is the subject of a safety recall. (pgs. 1-2)

What kind of a label must be used?
The policy is that it must be a permanent label. But it is specifically stated that "The statutory provision does not require a uniform one-size-fits-all system." That means there isn't a specific material, format, information that must be provided on the label. It is going to depend on YOUR type of business and your specific product. "At this point, the Commission is not imposing any such uniform requirements, but expects that manufacturers will use their best judgment to develop markings that best suit their business and product." (pg. 2)

When do I have to start labeling?
The labeling requirement begins for products manufactured on or after August 14, 2009. This is not a retroactive requirement, you don't have to pull the products you made before this date.

What must be labeled?
All children's products. Here is my blog on "What are Children's Products" http://buggalove.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-are-childrens-products.html

What does my label have to look like?
"Each manufacturer is ultimately responsible for making a reasonable judgment about what information can be marked on their product and packaging, given the character and type of their product and packaging, and what required information can be ascertainable, given the character and type of their business." (pg. 3)

Do I have to label my packaging?
"A mark on disposable packaging need only be permanent to the extent it is durable enough to reach the consumer. As such, an adhesive label on a piece of disposable packaging might be sufficient for a packaging mark. Further, if a mark is visible on the product through disposable packaging, there is no need for the mark to be on the packaging." (pg. 4)

Can I label ONLY my packaging and not the product itself?
"Some circumstances where the Commission considers that marking the product itself might not be practicable include (pgs 4-5):
(1) If a product is too small to be marked...
(2) If a toy is meant to be stored in a box or other packaging, such as games with boards
and small game pieces. There, the board and the box should be marked, but the
individual game pieces do not need to be. The Commission believes that this principle would similarly apply to arts and crafts kits for children. Again, only the storage box and one integral part of the kit needs to marked and not every item in the crafting kit. Where a number of small products such as marbles, buttons, beads, etc. are packaged together, the Commission believes that marking the package would be sufficient. For products that are meant to stay with or be contained in their original packaging, the packaging would be considered part of the “product.”
(3) If a product is sold through a bulk vending machine, the item does not need to be individually marked but the package or carton in which such products are shipped to the retailer should be marked.
(4) If a physical mark would weaken or damage the product or impair its utility.
(5) If a product surface would be impossible to mark permanently such as those made of elastics, beads, small pieces of fabric (such as jewelry, hair ornaments, etc.), or craft items like pipe stems, or natural rocks.
(6) If the aesthetics of the product would be ruined by a mark and a mark cannot be placed in an accessible but inconspicuous location.

What information is supposed to go on my label?
Manufacturer name, date, and location. If your product takes several days to make, you use the date that you finish/package your item. Location is city, state, and country. Small manufacturers/crafters do NOT need to include batch/lot or run numbers as these likely do not apply. "Section 103(a) does not require codes, formats or numbering systems. A manufacturer may choose to employ a code or numbering system provided the required information remains ascertainable by the consumer." (pg.s 4-6)

The above is the most important information for me in my situation. I recommend reading the entire 6 pg. policy document as there many be information more pertinent that I have not included in this summary. Please note, these are not the official FAQs from the CPSC. They are simply MY summary of the policy. You can find the official FAQs here: http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/103faq.html#103q8

As for the voting member statements, here are the best quotes I found:
"...the Commission does not intend to penalize manufacturers for inadvertant violations of the statute when they have made a good faith effort in attempting to comply with the tracking label requirements." --Inez Tenenbaum

"...the Commission agrees that small volume manufacturers or crafters need not create a labeling system incorporating the use of lot, batch, or run numbers so long as such manufacturers can keep adequate records of the components used in their products"-- Inez Tenenbaum

"The Commission will shortly be posting answers to additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the marking required by this section." --Thomas Moore

"It is important to note that the guidance issued today probably will not be the last word on this important issue. We realize that all the issues presented by Section 103(a) cannot be addressed by this document...I emphasize that the agency initially will be looking for 'good faith' compliance in the context of a recall." -- Nancy Nord

I hope you've found this blog post helpful in keeping abreast of the latest in CPSIA news. Hope you're all having a good day and good luck in implementing this provision! I know that this guidance has now provided me with enough information to move forward with labeling ideas for my products.