There has been little said about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) decision to grant Mattel’s request to do its own laboratory testing, the testing for heavy metals and safety of children’s products as required within the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).
The CPSIA states in section 102 “Mandatory Third Party Testing for Certain Children’s Products” that manufacturers, importers or retailers must certify that their products meet the specifications of the law by using third-party testing. This testing will provide information for the required General Conformity Certificate (GCC).
However, back in August of 2009, the CPSC decided to grant Mattel the ability to do all its own testing and thus is not required to use an independent “Third-Party” testing laboratory for conformity.
Is it strange that Mattel, who was recently fined $2.3 million for lead painted toys in 2007, is granted the ability to do its own testing, privately?
Is this a fair market practice to permit the largest nation’s largest toy maker to not do independent third-party conformity testing? They will obviously pay less by percentage for testing than other businesses. Is this benefiting the consumer or the stock holder?
According to CNBC year ending 12/31/07, Mattel had revenue of $5.97 Billion, with an operating income of $733 Million. In June of 2009, Mattel agreed to pay a fine of $2.3 million for civil penalties for violating regulations for lead-based paint on toys sold in 2007.
This means that Mattel was fined 1/2596th of the revenue it earned from 2007, the year of the lead-based paint fond on toys, or 0.313% of their operating income. Is this just a slap on the wrist? If a penalty is less than 1/3 of 1 percent, how does this make a manufacturer change? How is this ensuring that products are actually meeting regulations if you get to test behind closed doors?
Now if you said that the fine was to be 5% of their income, that total would be $36.65 million dollars, is that enough of a fine?
I’m guessing that the cost of the procedures to make changes in the manufacturing process cost more than $2.3 million, so it may be cheaper to just get fined in the future and help out stock holders rather than to protect and ensure the safety of our children.
The CPSIA appears to be benefiting large businesses, potentially even unfair market practices, while potentially putting small business out of business. One client of mine said, “small children’s product manufactures are going to go extinct if something is not done.”
Earlierthis week, my company Essco Safety Check was involved in a nation story about cadmium in children’s jewelry and other children’s products. The testing for cadmium is currently voluntary within the CPSIA, is Mattel doing that testing?
I am not suggesting that Mattel is not capable of providing the appropriate testing and certification, however, is it fair to ask a company to pay half or more of their revenue on testing children’s products, while another gets the rights to do all its testing in-house?
There are other large businesses that are waiting for approval to do their own independent testing. Will the CPSC grant additional businesses the right to side-step “third-party testing”?
Currently, only children’s products that are painted, jewelry, cribs, pacifiers or small parts need third-party conformity testing. All other children’s products have a stay of testing and certification requirements, all products are still required to meet federal regulations for restricted metals, such as lead.
Currently, the only approved testing methods within the CPSIA are destructive in nature and at fixed site laboratories, or in-house at Mattel. Here is where X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) technology can help small and large businesses with the CPSIA.