Retailers Call for More Time to Implement Lead Standards

In a letter to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, National Retail Federation (NRF) Senior Vice President for Government Relations Steve Pfister calls for increased funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission and more time to implement proposed new lead standards.

"Retailers are committed to ensuring that the products on their shelves are of the highest quality and meet all applicable health and safety regulations," NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations Steve Pfister said. "We applaud the efforts of Congress to seek to improve the processes within the CPSC while giving them additional resources. However, we are concerned that some of the provisions may weaken the product recall process instead of strengthening it."

The committee is scheduled to vote today on H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act. Among other provisions, the bill would double annual funding for the short-staffed CPSC to $142 million and increase its maximum civil penalty to $10 million from the current $1.8 million.

NRF supports many elements of the legislation, including the increased funding, tracking labels that would help identify recalled items, expedited development and implementation of CPSC regulations, and a prohibition on the sale of recalled products.

Pfister said NRF also supports efforts to reduce lead content in children's products, but that the 180 days provided in the bill to adopt new standards is unworkable. "The current 180-day implementation in the bill would be incredibly difficult for industry to achieve," he said. "Retailers are currently placing orders for products today that will be on the store shelves next fall. These products are being manufactured to specifications that meet the current standards set by the CPSC. While companies understand that new lead levels will be established, they are not sure what those levels will be and need to be given appropriate time to meet those standards. Retailers must be given at least a year to work with their vendor partners to implement these new significant changes."

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