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CPSC Unanimously Approves Policy Statement On Tracking Labels Requirement for Children's Products in Section 103(a) of the CPSIA


On July 20, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) unanimously approved the draft Statement of Policy relating to the tracking label requirement in Section 103(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). Section 103(a) requires manufacturers and importers to place permanent distinguishing marks on children's products and their packaging to the extent practicable to enable manufacturers and consumers to ascertain certain manufacturing and source information for these products. The tracking label requirement applies to children's products manufactured after August 14, 2009.

The CPSC's Statement of Policy on the tracking label requirement includes the following key points:

  • Other than what is included in the text of CPSIA Section 103(a), there are no uniform requirements for tracking labels. The CPSC expects manufacturers to use their best judgment in developing the appropriate permanent distinguishing marks to satisfy the requirements of Section 103(a).
  • "Label" need not be interpreted as a single collection of information in one location. Rather, the totality of permanent distinguishing marks on the product and packaging can satisfy the tracking labels requirement.
  • Manufacturers may use codes and numbering systems (though they are not required) as long as consumers can ascertain the required information.
  • The CPSC has stated that it anticipates some period of education once Section 103(a) goes into effect. Therefore, the CPSC is unlikely to penalize manufacturers for noncompliance where they make good faith efforts to educate themselves and the noncompliance is inadvertent.
  • The CPSC recognized six examples where marking the product itself (as opposed to the packaging) may not be practicable:

    1. If a product is too small in size to be marked;
    2. If a toy is stored in packaging, such as a game with many pieces (the larger pieces must be marked but the smaller pieces need not be marked);
    3. If a product is sold in bulk (individual items do not need to be marked, but the package or cartons in which the items were originally shipped must be marked);
    4. If the label will weaken the product, damage the product, or impair the product's utility;
    5. If the product surface cannot be permanently marked;
    6. If the label will ruin the product's aesthetics and the label cannot be placed in an inconspicuous location.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and Commissioners Thomas Moore and Nancy Nord each issued individual statements on the ballot vote.

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