Today, CPSC released a Statement of Policy on requirements for the tracking labels that will be required on all children's products and packaging as of August 14, 2009. As you are aware, the CPSIA requires that manufacturers include on both product and packaging of products intended for children 12 or under:

  • the manufacturer/importer or private labeler;
  • the date and place of manufacture;
  • cohort information (batch or run number or other identification of specific production lot).

This information must be ascertainable by the ultimate purchaser.

The Policy Statement reiterates many of the requirements of the statute, but also provides additional guidance, including the following:

  • The Commission is not imposing uniform requirements at this time, but it may in the future.
  • The Commission expects manufacturers to engage in good faith efforts to understand and implement tracking label requirements and does not intend to penalize manufacturers engaging in such efforts for inadvertent omissions.
  • The “tracking label” requirement does not mean that all required information must be contiguous or in one discrete location. Permanent information already required by other federal regulations or by existing company practice may be used.
  • A “permanent” mark is one that is reasonably expected to remain on the product during its useful life and on the packaging until it reaches the consumer. If a mark is visible on product through disposable packaging, the packaging itself need not be marked.
  • All required information must be ascertainable to the manufacturer and the consumer. Codes or numbering systems may be (but are not required to be, used as long as they are ascertainable to the consumer. The CPSC does not explain how one would make a code system “ascertainable.” Providing a key to any codes either in packaging/instructions, or by toll-free number, email address or website accessible to the consumer would seem sufficient to satisfy CPSC’s “good faith” policy.
  • Location of manufacture may be the name of the city and state or, for imported products, city, state and/or administrative region, and country. A street address is not required.
  • Date of production may be a date range or date of assembly.
  • If lot, batch or run numbers are not used by a manufacturer, another means of determining detailed product information must be ascertainable.
  • A manufacturer may mark only the package and not the product if
    • the product is too small for individual marking,
    • a physical mark would weaken or damage the product,
    • the product's surface is impossible to permanently mark (e.g., hair ornaments, jewelry),
    • a physical mark would ruin the product's aesthetics, or
    • the product consists of small pieces packaged together (i.e., marbles).
    • The mark need only be on one item for items sold in sets or pairs (shoes, building blocks), and need only be placed on one integral part of products with multiple pieces (i.e., board games, craft sets, etc.).

This document should only be viewed as guidance to the industry, and is subject to change. CPSC states that it will continue to develop and adapt guidance once the provision becomes effective.