Labeling on children’s products would hurt business

Chilldren at play with assorted toys. (Photo: Iakov Filimonov, Shutterstock)

Californians are inundated with consumer labels. Some of these labels communicate valuable information, others do not. The sheer number of required labels almost guarantees that most of us will be overwhelmed by the fine print and the labels never read.

This week, California policymakers are considering a bill (SB 763) that would add yet another label – this time to children’s products. If enacted, this legislation will unnecessarily require a manufacturer of juvenile products to indicate whether or not a product contains added flame retardant chemicals by including a specified statement on a product label.

Adding an unnecessary cost to manufacturers and consumers may slow down the recovery and harm the state’s economy.

On the surface, the bill may appear to be a sensible approach to informing consumers about the products they are purchasing. Why not provide information to shoppers to help them make choices?

The problem is that this bill would require all manufacturers of children’s products, regardless of whether they use flame retardants in their products or not, to add labels that will provide little, if any, information to help consumers make informed decisions.

At the same time, new labeling requirements would put an undue burden on California businesses. Adding labels could cost over a million dollars a year for manufacturers—a price that will certainly be passed on to consumers, even though there is no benefit at all from the information.

California’s economy is, after many years, finally getting stronger. Adding an unnecessary cost to manufacturers and consumers may slow down the recovery and harm the state’s economy.

The juvenile products industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country. Chemical use is highly regulated under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), which protects children from acute and chronic hazardous exposure to chemicals from children’s products. Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) require juvenile products to meet hundreds of additional rules and regulations.

When it comes to children’s products, safety is paramount and the highest priority for our manufactures. SB 763 does not add any additional level of protection on top of what already exists. Children’s products are already among the most regulated products in the country—and rightly so.

Given all of the taxpayer money that goes into funding regulatory agencies, consumers should already feel confident about the products they purchase. Our members strive to work collaboratively with both federal and state legislators and regulators to advance product safety. Regulations and legislation play an important and vital role in ensuring that only the safest products make it to market, and JPMA will continue to support and advocate for regulation that is meaningful and beneficial to consumers.

As a soon-to-be father, I understand and appreciate the concerns of those supporting this legislation. Unfortunately, labeling for the sake of labeling is not the answer. When it comes to safety we should all be on the same page, and unfortunately this legislation sadly misses the mark. Let’s tell lawmakers in Sacramento to vote against laws that do not advance safety, confuse consumers and hamper economic growth.

Ed’s Note: Mark Fellin is director of regulatory and legislative affairs at the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association. The association has 50 member companies in the state of California.

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