Monday, July 19, 2010

GUEST BLOG - The Solution to Too Many Warning Labels....More Labels!

Rick has blogged several times about the new Illinois lead law (see here, here and here) and predicted that the resulting labeling requirements would result in only confusion for consumers.

In one blog, Rick stated "Consumers will not ignore these labels and will treat your product as though it were poisonous or radioactive."

We are letting Rick pick our Lotto numbers next week.

A faithful reader of this blog brought to our attention this article from the Channel 9 News website in Denver, Colorado.

The article, "Confusing warning tags on toys spark concerns for parents," (Did Rick write that headline?) reported that consumers are shocked, SHOCKED, by a tag on a small toy in a Babies R Us store that read "Warning: Contains Lead. May be harmful if eaten or chewed. May generate dust containing lead."

The article goes on to quote the consumer who tipped off the station of the "dangerous" stuffed animal stating "We couldn't believe our eyes when we read the removable paper label . . . I can't imagine anyone buying this product."

Is the toy toxic? Nope.

The story goes on to report that a Toys R Us statement to the TV station explains that the products with these tags "meet or exceed federally mandated requirements for children's products." and says the tag "is related to more stringent laws passed in Illinois and California. The Illinois law, for instance, requires a warning label if a material exceeds a limit of 40 ppm, in essence the amount of lead found naturally in the environment." (emphasis added)

The company spokesperson said "it would be too difficult for the company to maintain a separate inventory for those states."

"To comply with Illinois law, these labels have been placed on the required items that are carried in our stores in all states," the Toys R Us statement read.

Thanks, Illinois.

Don't worry readers, CPSC has a solution.

CPSC Spokesperson Scott Wolfson (who would be a wealthy man if he received $5 for every mention in this blog) says "even if a toy doesn't conform to California and Illinois' limits for lead, as long as a toy meets federal guidelines they are extremely safe. . . The agency is now considering adding new tags to all toys which meet federal standards, in hopes of relieving their fears."

That's right. The CPSC's solution to too many warning labels? More labels!

We found an Illinois license plate fitting for this situation:

Posted by the Staff of the Alliance for Children's Product Safety


Sebastian said...

The problem is when a store pulls an item because customers can't comprehend that a warning label to bring an item into compliance in CA may not mean that the product actually presents any danger to a child.
There was a big hullabaloo a couple years back when a Big Lots customer in Ohio read the California compliant label on a back pack she'd bought. Big Lots not only took the back pack back, but also pulled them from all their stores.

April said...

I have lived through a similar "hullabaloo" and certainly know the headaches it causes for all involved. As a recent transplant to CA, it is amazing to me how indifferent consumers seem to be about all the warnings plastered everywhere- public transit, buildings, consumer goods, etc. It very much feels like that old story of the "special interest group that cried wolf". I'm very sorry that Illinois has not found a way to handle it better, or learned from CA's example.

halojones-fan said...

I don't think that there's a building in California that hasn't got a Prop 65 warning label on every door. It's meaningless at this point; it's like the Surgeon General's Warning label on cigarette packs.

Wacky Hermit said...

Halojones-fan, as a former Californian I know to ignore the Prop 65 labels, and because of my CPSIA experience I'm starting to ignore a lot of labels. But people in saner states see the labels and don't realize they're there because other states have lost their marbles. It never crossed their minds that the warning labels might not be warning against an actual hazard.

halojones-fan said...

I wonder when manufacturers will learn that they could use this as a marketing trick? "FIRST IN THE INDUSTRY TO BE FULLY COMPLIANT WITH CPSC LEAD-FREE STANDARDS!!"

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