2011 Year in Review: Product Safety
This week, Promo Marketing is looking at the stories that helped define 2011. From Monday through Thursday we will recap the year's major news in four different areas: industry news, politics, product safety and world events. Check PromoMarketing.com each day, and vote in our Friday poll for the most important story of the year.
2011 Year in Review: Product Safety
With news of lead scares and burning night lights occurring regularly in 2011, product safety was a major issue. Manufacturers for the promotional products industry as well as for retail and commercial operations were affected by new laws, as well as older regulations which are only now taking effect. Perhaps the most significant of these events dealt with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), which began enforcement this August.
Reusable Bag Lead Scare
In late January, the Center for Consumer Freedom published a report stating that several major retailers were using reusable bags which included more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of lead. The story was picked up by several major newspapers, like USA Today, and caused some panic among consumers about the safety of polypropylene and nonwoven reusable bags. Chris Duffy, vice president of marketing or Bag Makers, and Rick Brenner, CEO of Prime Line, each responded to the report, finding fault with the results and insisting on the safety of the products. Despite an initial media furor, no further reports were issued linking reusable bags to dangerous volumes of lead.
Product Safety Database Goes Live
Required as a part of CPSIA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) created a product safety database for consumers to submit complaints about harmful retail items. The result of that legislation, SaferProducts.gov, went live on March 11 and was met with immediate resistance from several manufacturing interest groups. Business representatives said the website would unfairly slander manufacturers due to the nature of how complaints are posted; in October, a manufacturer did just that, anonymously filing a lawsuit against the site for posting a complaint the manufacturer said is illegitimate.
FDA Passes New Sunscreen Regulation
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new standards for the labeling of sunscreen products in June. These new standard would require all sunscreen to include additional information on the packaging, stating whether is protected against ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, or both. Manufacturers would have one or two years from June 15, the date the regulations were announced, to comply. The new regulations posed a greater problem for the promotional products industry; even though many industry suppliers already make sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB, the laws require displaying additional information on the packaging which takes up precious imprint area on promotional products.
CPSIA Lead Limits Reformed, Enforcement Begins
As originally drafted, CPSIA required manufacturers to reduce lead limits on toys to 300 ppm by August 2009, and 100 ppm by August 2011, unless it could be proven that such limits were not technologically feasible. Following recommendations from staffers, the CPSC found such limits were feasible and voted to enforce them on July 14. After an outcry from manufacturers, a bill was introduced by Representative Bono Mack (R-CA), which removed some of the more onerous requirements, such as one that would make the 100 ppm limit retroactive and another that would prevent resale of items. The bill was passed by both houses of congress in early August, and President Obama would sign the reform bill on Friday, August 12, just days before the three year anniversary of CPSIA. Enforcement on the new limits, with the reforms implemented, began Sunday, August 14, 2011.
PPAI Holds First Annual Product Safety Summit
Occurring the second week in August, just before the enforcement of CPSIA began, PPAI held the promotional product industry's first annual Product Safety Summit. Held in tandem with the association's North American Leadership Conference, the summit brought together members of the CPSC with members of the promotional industry to discuss how product safety and compliance affects business and what can be done about it. Highlights included a keynote speech from Alibaba.com general manager Annie Xu and the unveiling of PPAI TurboTest. The 2012 Product Safety Summit will be held in New Orleans, August 14-15.
Camsing Global Issues Night Light Recall
In September, the CPSC cooperated with supplier Camsing Global in issuing a recall of about 10,000 nightlights, which were reported to have overheated and melted in some instances. Speaking with Promo Marketing, Camsing Global president Jason Miller explained that the products were made by Adva-Lite prior to that company's acquisition and that Camsing Global voluntarily initiated the recall as soon as they were made aware. "It was resolved back in April, May and June," Miller said, adding that the September press release was issued by the CPSC to try and get the rest. "We've already gotten back 3,000 or 4,000, based on us getting on top of it right away. And we've worked directly with the 15 distributors who were impacted by this," he said.