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CPSC Refuses To Grant Labeling Stay
Volume 611
May 21, 2009

Manufacturers will be required to mark children's products with tracking labels starting in August after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) denied a petition seeking a one-year enforcement stay. The decision means companies must comply with the labeling guidelines set forth in Section 103 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). "We strongly support the objective of tracking labels with one caveat," says Rick Brenner, president and CEO of Prime Line (asi/79530). "We don't want the label to override the promotional message of a client. We feel we'll be in compliance as long as we make a good faith effort to facilitate tracking. That's what the CPSC has said."

Brenner, who has had recent discussions with CPSC officials, maintains that the Commission is sympathetic to industry concerns. He doesn't believe the lack of a stay will significantly change the approach of top manufacturers who have already embraced higher safety standards. "We've been preparing for this for some time," Brenner says.

Section 103 of the CPSIA specifically requires that the tracking label provide "marks that will enable the ultimate purchaser to ascertain the manufacturer or private labeler, the location and date of production of the product and cohort information." In addition, manufacturers are not permitted to attach labeling tags or adhesive labels to fabrics, which some argue complicates the design process of certain items.

Critics of the labeling guidelines believe the rules are too broad and don't allow reasonable flexibility, especially in marking small children's products. "Already, confusion and uncertainty about the CPSIA's provisions have become a nightmare for many manufacturers," said Rosario Palmieri, a vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, in a statement. "Businesses just want clear guidance, flexibility and sufficient time to implement the new rules."

The petition for a stay was refused after two voting members of the CPSC were deadlocked in a 1-1 tie. Acting Chairperson Nancy Nord voted to approve the request, but Commissioner Thomas Moore voted against the stay. Currently, the CPSC only has two members, but it will be expanded to five later this year. The CPSIA labeling requirements apply to all products primarily manufactured for children age 12 or younger that are made on or after August 14, 2009.

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