What Do Liberty Balls Represent?
I've covered many topics through the years and this one is perhaps the most frightening. It threatens our livelihoods and puts a bright spotlight on the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Increasing awareness for product safety and CPSIA regulations is a good thing. Our industry needs to better understand what it takes to be in compliance with these regulations, but this story is outright scary.
Jeff Jacobs, executive director of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), wrote a thought-provoking article that was published in his Promo Marketing Blog. QCA is an industry organization that is setting standards for quality, compliant and socially responsible promotional products.
In Jeff's article, entitled "Magnets: When Opposites Don't Attract," he addresses the controversy surrounding Buckyballs that came up last year. Buckyballs are a novelty magnet product for use by adults that have created quite a stir. I encourage you to read this article as it sets the groundwork for a much larger concern.
This issue involves an effort by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall Buckyballs. These small magnetic stacking balls were marketed as an executive gift item, not as a toy to be used by children.
The action taken by the CPSIA has declared the balls a swallowing hazard to young children and instituted a recall action. The company, Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, disputed the action, saying labels on the packaging clearly warned that the product was unsafe for children.
Due to the financial burden of the recall, Maxfield & Oberton went out of business at the end of 2012. Where this situation gets even more troubling, is that the CPSIA then went after the CEO, Craig Zucker. They are holding him personally responsible for recall costs that could be estimated at over 50 million dollars.
"I think this case presents some important and troubling legal issues that really break new ground legally for the C.P.S.C.," said Nancy A. Nord, who was the only commissioner to vote against filing the administrative action. Ms. Nord retired from the Consumer Products Safety Commission in October 2013.