Tracking Labels – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under CPSIA

Statement of Policy: Interpretation and Enforcement of Section 103(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

A. Background

On August 14, 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was enacted. It made a number of amendments to the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). Section 103 of the CPSIA, entitled “Tracking Labels for Children’s Products,” mandates, in pertinent part, “distinguishing marks” on all children’s products and their packaging to enable the manufacturer and the ultimate purchaser to “ascertain” certain source and production information.1 These markings are to enable the manufacturer, retailers and the ultimate consumer to ascertain the manufacturer or private labeler, location and date of production of the product, and cohort information (batch, run number, or other identifying characteristic).2 These new requirements become effective August 14, 2009.

To gather comments and information about implementation of this program, the Commission published a Notice of Inquiry in the Federal Register on February 26, 2009, 74 Fed. Reg. 8781, and held a public forum on May 12, 2009. Comments in response to the Notice and discussions in the forum demonstrate that many questions exist about the tracking label requirement. Through this policy guidance the Commission intends to clarify its interpretation of the statutory requirements and provide guidance on how it intends to enforce Section 103 of the CPSIA. This document does not impose any additional requirements beyond those in the CPSIA, but informs the public of the
Commission’s interpretation of the provision.

The Commission believes that the purpose of Section 103(a) is not to impose significant additional burdens on manufacturers who already make available the required information for their products, but to bring those who do not up to a higher standard. In the event of a recall, the information mandated by Section 103(a) would enhance the specificity of the product identification and lead to better awareness by the consumer. Greater specificity identifying the product will help the manufacturer narrow the scope of a recall if one is ever needed and help retailers more readily identify products that need to be removed from inventory. This greater specificity helps the manufacturer as well as the consumer.

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Statement of Policy: Interpretation and Enforcement Of Section 103(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act