Every day we hear of auto recalls, food recalls, baby stroller recalls and other consumer product recalls when dangers are found in the items we buy. But where does all this start? Which agencies test consumer product safety — tests which sometimes lead to product recalls?
The testing agency, of course, depends on the product. These agencies include an alphabet-soup array of government entities, from the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
Sometimes third-party services also test various products at the behest of federal agencies. In fact, by federal law, children’s product safety must be tested by a third party, CPSC-accepted laboratory to establish compliance with the pertinent federal children’s product safety requirements.
After receiving passing results of such third-party testing, manufacturers must issue a Children’s Product Certificate (CPR). That means the manufacturer certifies that its children’s product complies with all applicable children’s product safety rules.
Third-party tests for the safety of children’s products may be conducted separately on such products’ component parts. If they use due care and follow all CPSC regulatory requirements.
Importers or manufacturers themselves may conduct such tests, or they can rely on test reports or component part certificates from another party, such as a supplier.
As for food product safety, the FDA sets scientific standards for testing foods to detect various contaminants. Food companies and labs around the world use these standards to ensure that their food products are safe to drink and eat.
The FDA also has drug and chemical residue methods for testing food, as well as cosmetics applied to the skin. Such procedures are preferred by analysts in FDA laboratories for detecting chemical and drug residues including:
As noted, the FDA also oversees cosmetics product safety testing. Though the FDA holds that cosmetics do not have to be sterile, it maintains that cosmetics “must not contain any harmful microorganisms, and the number of aerobic microorganisms per gram must be low.”
The FDA also points out that cosmetics products whose ingredients are considered “natural” or “organic” by the manufacturer are not necessarily safe.
“Manufacturers are still responsible for making sure their products are safe when used according to the directions in the labeling, or in the customary or expected way,” the FDA says. “Some testing may still be needed.”
Auto product safety is overseen by the NHTSA, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Its ultimate responsibility is to ensure that driving automotive vehicles is as safe as possible.
To achieve this, the NHTSA develops safety test protocols and conducts such tests. It even provides the humanlike test dummies — also known as “crash test dummies” — that are used in auto safety testing.
The NHTSA often conducts crash tests to determine if vehicles can withstand certain impacts within specified safety limits. Such tests often lead to revisions in the design and manufacture of vehicles or even to auto recalls.
There, do you feel better now, knowing that such federal agencies are at work protecting you?
If so, you should know that not all failures in consumer product safety are detected before products are placed on sale, and subsequent recalls may be too late for some victims of dangerous foods, automobiles or other consumer products.
If you or a loved one in your family has suffered injury due to an unsafe consumer product, alert the injury lawyers with Jim Adler & Associates for a free case review. You may need a consumer product liability lawsuit to protect your legal rights.