Tracking Label Requirement Still Vexes Suppliers and Distributors
The final example is one that is extremely common for distributors—the case I referred to earlier where a T-shirt is manufactured by one company and decorated by another. Say that the children's-sized T-shirts were manufactured by Gildan. Gildan has no responsibility for imprinting done later so the original tracking label has no relevance if the problem is in the decoration. A second tracking label is the only way you can trace those T-shirts if there turned out to be high lead in the imprint. What about the unique combination of the original tracking label and the imprint? Could that substitute for a second tracking label? By itself, no, because it doesn't identify the "manufacturer" (in this case, the distributor who contracted for the imprinting) or any of the other date and batch information that CPSIA requires of tracking labels. Just like suppliers, distributors who decorate product should set up a good in-house system to verify that their subcontractors have current third-party tests for the inks and other materials they use (heat transfers might contain glue or other materials), to assign tracking numbers, to verify compliance and most important, keep good documentation for all of this.
As for the tracking label, there is no one specific required layout. The law requires that the label include enough information for the purchaser or recipient of the product to trace back to the manufacturer, to identify when and where the product was produced and to "ascertain" production information including as the batch or lot. Some manufacturer/importers provide this information on a detailed tracking label. Others include a web site and a code that reveals the tracking information. The way you format your tracking label will of course be dependent on the space available on each product. Regardless of how you do the label, it's a good idea to develop an internal system to maintain records for each production run of children's products, of the tracking numbers you issue and the related testing documentation. That information will be enormously valuable if the product is ever involved in a recall. The law doesn't specifically require you to create such a system but an August 2009 policy statement by CPSC regarding the tracking label section of CPSIA states "the Commission believes that compliance with this Section generally will require that manufacturers have in place a reasonable means to ascertain detailed production information, including the means to distinguish products made from different factories, made with different components, at different times or have other material differences that make the product non-identical from products."