CPSIA: Another tracking label update

As some of you already know, the CPSC posted a Statement of Policy (pdf) which includes Commissioner comments that outline the interpretation of the tracking label requirement as well as an updated FAQ. Perhaps surprisingly, many decisions are left in the manufacturer’s best judgment. Likewise, the CPSC mentions an “education period” although compliance is expected if it comes to a potential recall. Above all, it seems apparent the Commission does not intend to penalize manufacturers who have erroneously interpreted the guidelines provided any errors or omissions were made in good faith. That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook just because you’re small. Tenenbaum said specifically:

…small volume manufacturers and crafters have expressed concern that they cannot feasibly comply with the statute because their production patterns do not lend themselves to lot, batch, and run labeling systems. To this end, the Commission agrees that small volume manufacturers or crafters need not create a labeling system incorporating the use of lot, batch, or run numbers so long as such manufacturers can keep adequate records of the components used in their products. The goal of the labeling statute is to enable manufacturers and consumers alike to ascertain pertinent information about a children’s product in the event of a recall, not to implement a rigid and uniform labeling standard that applies to both small and large manufacturers in the same way. In developing and implementing a tracking label system, small volume manufacturers and crafters should also consider the business and recordkeeping practices of their peers.

Not to knock anyone over the head with it but again, professional means better, not bigger.

Moving on, until you have time to go through the policy and FAQ, here’s a cheat sheet:

Fiber content: Duplicate information is not required on the tracking label. If you are already complying with the FTC labeling requirements to list fiber content, this doesn’t also have to be on the tracking label. I was surprised to see mention of this because nothing I read in the tracking label section 103 said you had to so I wasn’t aware that people thought differently.

Location: CPSC confirms location disclosure is limited to city, state and nation of origin. The caveat being that a manufacturer must be able to disclose the specific geographical source of the product’s making. I realize this may represent difficulties for some who are sourcing commodities but you’ll have to find a supplier who can provide greater transparency. Again, you will need to have on file, in your batch information, the specific contact information for your production source but you don’t have to list them on your tracking label. Again, the CPSC realizes it may take time to come into compliance but you need to make a good faith effort.

Date of production: Our pleas have been heard, kind of. A date range (undefined) is acceptable.

Cohort information: Again, cohort is your contractor but there still remains ambiguity on the matter. In his statement, Commissioner Moore said Congress gave companies flexibility to provide either the manufacturer (you) or private labeler (importer, if that’s you, and manufacturer must comply with the tracking label requirement) so that a company would not have to identify specific factory information. Then his statement digresses to a discussion of location, sidestepping the controversy of listing one’s cohort directly. Who knows what the final answer is but one can take refuge in that he also said manufacturers will not be penalized if they do not include this information as of August 14.

What is exempt from the tracking label: The CPSC specifically defined a few circumstances where it may not be practical to label the package or the product such as:

  • If the product is too small.
  • If it is impossible to mark the material permanently (hair ornaments etc).
  • If the mark would adversely affect product aesthetics.
  • If it is a paired item and can be sold singularly, both items of the set must be labeled. If it is a paired item not sold singularly, only one item must be marked (shoes).
  • Socks are exempt.

Lot or batch numbers:
Depending on your record keeping practices (see links at close), you may not need them. That does not mean you do not need to keep track internally, only that you need not assign a batch or lot number and print it on a label if your record keeping practices are such that you can definitively identify the origin of the lot and all the components of it if called to do so in the event of an inquiry, investigation or recall. The FAQ says “If someone handed you one of your products sold last year, what would you be able to tell them about the materials used?”

Again, this is the word from the CPSC’s Policy Statement. Depending on who you sell to, your mileage may vary. I have no word at this time what any given retailer is requiring of their vendors.

Here is the revised example of what your tracking label must include:

  • Mfg by: RN 110706 OR Mfg by <your name>, RN 119786
  • Made in City, State, Nation of origin
  • August-September 2009 (date the lot is completed)
  • Cohort code if applicable (of your designation)

For more information (CPSC)
Statement of Policy
FAQ: New Tracking Label (Section 103)
If you make handcrafted items from home

Related entries:
What is a batch?
What is a cutter’s must?
What is a sketch sheet
What is a Bill of Materials (BOM)
What is a cutting ticket
What is a tech pack?
How to move up to another level
CPSIA and tracking label requirements
CPSIA: Printable labels for August requirements
CPSIA: Tracking labels update

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