Saturday, December 12, 2009

CPSIA - CPSIA Casualty of the Week December 7

The Alliance for Children's Product Safety's "CPSIA Casualty of the Week" highlights how the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is disrupting the U.S. marketplace in order to draw attention to the problems faced by small businesses, public institutions, consumers and others trying to comply with senseless and often contradictory provisions of the law. These provisions do nothing to improve product safety, but are driving small businesses out of the market.

Congress and the CPSC need to address the problems with CPSIA implementation to help small businesses by restoring "common sense" to our nation's product safety laws.

CPSIA Casualty of the Week December 7


Cepia LLC, a small business that manufactures Zhu Zhu Pets, the hottest-selling toy of this holiday season, learned the high cost of success in the toy business last week when its reputation was smeared by an over-zealous consumer group, GoodGuide. The California-based consumer group launched a public relations attack on the "Zhu Zhu Pet" on December 5, claiming its "Mr. Squiggles" toy contained tin and antimony above federal standards outlined in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Word spread quickly via the media and blogosphere that Zhu Zhu Pets were "dangerous", sending Cepia into a business and public relations nightmare through no fault of its own.

Credit the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for acting swiftly. By Monday evening (December 7), the agency had investigated and cleared Zhu Zhu Pets and Cepia. Also on Monday, GoodGuide backtracked on its findings, acknowledging that it had inappropriately used an XRF gun to test the surface but failed to use the proper federal wet test methods.

While this product safety frenzy is soon to be forgotten by most, its cost and consequences for Cepia, a small business with fewer than 50 employees, are large. Yet this entrepreneurial shop has no recourse against GoodGuide, which clumsily seized on the wrong test data to create an illusion of toy company irresponsibility designed to scare consumers. There are no penalties under the law for unsupportable or misleading accusations by consumer groups – although manufacturers themselves are always at risk of CPSC penalties which can range as high as $15 million and which can be increased for perceived bad behavior.

Self-appointed consumer advocate attacks on children’s products have proliferated this Christmas season. This self-destructive atmosphere was, in part, created by the CPSIA and its reckless disregard for the use of risk in assessing safety. Yet Congress to date refuses to acknowledge problems with the law, and in a sad twist, these consumer groups who pushed to make the law as far-reaching possible in their zest to 'protect our children' now fight to keep common-sense from being written back into it. It's time to set an example for the perpetrators of consumer group false alarms: Chairman Tenenbaum needs to tell Congress to allow CPSC to conduct risk assessment in implementing the CPSIA.

For more information, visit

For more information, please contact Caitlin Andrews at (202) 828-7637 or e-mail

Do not accept the status quo! Tell Congress and the CPSC to restore "common sense" to our nation's product safety laws.

Call CPSC and Congress.


Anonymous said...

I agree; we shouldn't punish a business until a kid actually dies. We should err on their side before the children. Another great analysis! Thank you as always!

Rick Woldenberg, Chairman - Learning Resources Inc. said...

Anon, I am sure you don't miss the point. I don't think corporations are always right and certainly have no interest in putting children in harm's way. That said, not everything is a health crisis. Compliance is not the equivalent of safety, either. In this case, an irresponsible, inexperienced and perhaps indifferent consumer group attacked a famous toy (read, sitting duck) for what was at worst a technical issue. If we are so defect-intolerant as a society that we must measure strict liability in parts per million, the consumer groups may get their wish . . . we will all move back into caves where things will be much "safer" except for sabre-toothed tigers. As long as we test our rocks for lead.

Anonymous said...

I find it surprising to see the the CPSC has said that XRF isn't valid yet they tell us, resellers, that it is the method we should use to test all used products, except for unpainted woods and untreated cottons. Of course there is no other reasonable method to test one off products. Well, XRF isn't really reasonable for a resale shop either.

So, what is it then, resellers are potentially operating illegally unless they screen, but then if they find something it doesn't demonstrate any actual risk or even a real violation of the law.

More confused than ever.


A criminal.

Rick Woldenberg, Chairman - Learning Resources Inc. said...

Dear Criminal,

Isn't it interesting that when Mr. Waxman decided to unilaterally correct the CPSIA without hearings or discussion with anyone really, he neglected to address the issues facing your industry. I guess you don't have any legitimate complaints - like the rest of us. To Mr. Waxman, the world must seem full of whiners.