Retailers Talk Consumer Product Safety Trends

Retailers Talk Consumer Product Safety Trends

Fall Meeting Recap

In early October 2021, RILA held the fall meeting of its Consumer Products Committee (CPC) virtually. Highlights from the two-afternoon event include an update from former state attorney generals (AGs) on trends in state enforcement; hot topics and emerging issues in consumer products, as well as virtual hallway conversations and presentations from the committee’s strategic partners, Crowell & Moring, and UL; and peer-to-peer benchmarking sessions.


DAY 1 – TUESDAY OCTOBER 5, 2021

The first day of RILA’s CPC fall meeting kicked off with a presentation by former State AGs and current Crowell & Moring Partners, Toni Michelle Jackson & Michael Yaghi. Jackson and Yaghi shared their insights into several trending areas of increased interest they are seeing from state AGs including price gouging, harmful substances in products, and environmental concerns.

KEY TAKEAWAYS –
  • Price Gouging
    • Many State AGs have a proven track record of actively and aggressively investigating price gouging products.
    • It is a leading practice to tie price increases to increased costs and to have documentation of the increased cost (especially if the price increases are more than 10%).
  • Harmful Substances in Products
    • State AGs remain focused on protecting consumer privacy and many states have enacted state-specific laws that require individualized detailed compliance
  • Environmental Concerns
    • Environmental concerns remain a priority focus for State AGs so companies should remain vigilant in their manufacturing and waste disposal procedures.
    • Safety of products, especially children’s products, are under key scrutiny to remain free of harmful substances.
Following the State AG session, participants joined legal and subject matter experts from strategic partner Crowell & Moring in three virtual hallways for an opportunity to  dialogue with them on: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Recall Communications & Trends (Led by Cheri Falvey, Partner & Carolyn Wagner, Counsel); Anticorruption/Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) (Led by Derek Hahn, Partner & Tiffany Wynn, Counsel); and Chemicals & Hazardous Materials (HazMat) (led by Warren Lehrenbaum, Partner & Jen Giblin, Senior Counsel).   

For the last presentation of the day, participants heard from guest presenter Erika Z. Jones, Partner, Mayer Brown, on the U.S. CPSC’s recent complaint against Amazon. Having represented client-respondents in similar CPSC actions in the past, Jones was able to not only unpack the complaint against Amazon, but also address likely next steps in the proceedings and detail key implications that this case could have for RILA Members.
 

DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 6, 2021

CPC Strategic Sponsor UL kicked day two off with a session on What’s Trending in Consumer Product Safety for Retail? Moderated by Catherine Sheehy, Global Lead of Sustainability Partnerships, Retail and Consumer Products, UL, participants heard from UL subject matter experts on three topics: Chemicals: What is new in the ever-evolving arena of global chemicals of concern? (Led by Stacie Abraham, Senior Manager; John Kowalski, Senior Regulatory Specialist; and Darlene Susa-Anderson, Senior Manager, UL); Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): New safety rule for facemask (Led by Dr. Tom Fabian, Ph.D.); and Furniture Stability: The confluence of three workstreams in a roadmap to regulation (Led by Mike O’Hara, General Manager, UL).  

After the formal presentation wrapped, participants had an opportunity to engage in Q&A with the UL subject matter experts during a virtual hallway conversation session.

KEY TAKEAWAYS –
  • Chemicals
    • Many of the chemicals that are listed as “restricted” are categories or groupings of chemicals. Thus, it is important to understand and know if a chemical used in your product portfolio might be considered one within any of the listed groups.
    • Globally, there are several retailer and other restricted substances list (approx. 17 restricted retailer lists).
  • PPE
    • PPE and face masks are subject to regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on intended use (e.g., a mask that is marketed to reduce risk of communicable disease transmission would be subject to FDA oversight, compared to a dust inhalation protection mask that would not).
    • Masks that may fall in between the categories of medical and non-medical, that are being used to help stop the spread of the virus – especially those that are recommended for use by the Center for Disease Control/World Health Organization, qualify as medical masks and therefore are subject to FDA oversight.
  • Furniture Stability
    • Per the CPSC, all products evaluated for the notice of proposed rulemaking were non-compliant with the proposed method (43.6 million products were evaluated)
    •  Before further action on the NPR (which has not been voted on by the Commission), the STURDY Act, which sets some parameters and would streamline the regulatory process, may advance in Congress.  
 

OPEN PEER BENCHMARKING DISCUSSION

The October 2021 CPC Meeting included ample opportunities for peer-to-peer benchmarking via several breakout sessions convened throughout the meeting. Topics for member discussion included:
 
  • Chemical Issues / HazMat Issues / Shipping Restrictions
  • U.S. CPSC / Recall Communications & Effectiveness
  • State Issues
  • Market Surveillance
  • Conflict Minerals Reporting
  • Risk Assessment Tools
  • Furniture Stability
Many thanks to our committee strategic partners Crowell & Moring and UL, and guest presenter Erika Jones (Mayer Brown) for contributing their time and expertise to deliver excellent meeting content and opportunities for engagement with experts on timely product safety topics. Additionally, our appreciation goes out to the RILA member facilitators for peer-to-peer breakout sessions: Don Asleson, Target; Erin Bradley, Costco; Joanna Coates, Home Depot; Andy Dabydeen, Canadian Tire; Kim Mason, Five Below; Judd Sandstrom, Tractor Supply; and Jason Yearout, Home Depot. Thank you for your contributions to a successful fall 2021 CPC meeting!
 

MATERIALS

Recordings of both Crowell & Moring’s State AG Trends and UL’s What’s Trending in Consumer Product Safety for Retail? session available on the CPC Committee page (member login required). For a copy of any session slides, please contact Luisa Lobo, Coordinator, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, at luisa.lobo@rila.org.

For more information regarding RILA’s Consumer Products Committee, please contact Susan Kirsch, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs and Compliance at susan.kirsch@rila.org.
 

Tags
  • Product Safety
  • Consumer Product Compliance
  • Legal Affairs & Compliance
  • Product Stewardship
  • Consumer

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