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CPSC to Host Recall Effectiveness Workshop; Commissioner Kaye Issues Recall Effectiveness Statement

On July 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will be hosting a public workshop on Recall Effectiveness. The workshop, to be held in the Hearing Room at CPSC Headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, is intended to allow consumer safety professionals and the CPSC staff to discuss ways to improve the effectiveness of recalls.

The agenda for the workshop includes:

  • Presentations from the CPSC staff reflecting their views on the recall process, standard notifications, goals for CPSC press releases, and data associated with recalls.

  • Open forum discussions on how to determine the effectiveness of a recall and communicating the hazard to consumers.

  • Break-out sessions to discuss improving recall effectiveness through consumer motivation and technological advances.

The Workshop is structured slightly differently from previous CPSC-hosted presentations, featuring an open-discussion format in lieu of typical panel presentations. Due to the non-standard format, the meeting will not be webcast. Registration has also now closed for in-person attendance.

Following the workshop, the CPSC staff plans to: (1) develop a list of suggestions and ideas from stakeholders to share; and (2) create a summary report on key findings and suggestions for follow up.

In anticipation of the Workshop, Commissioner Elliot Kaye released a statement outlining what he believes are six basic principles to improve recall effectiveness.

Commissioner Kaye’s statement emphasizes:

  • Employing simple messaging and comprehensive outreach in communications to consumers about recalls,

  • Giving consumers the ability to choose the most convenient and holistic recall remedy for them whether it be in the form of a repair, replacement, or a refund, and

  • Enabling consumers to easily complete the steps to quickly obtain the recall remedy of their choosing at no cost.

Some components of Kaye’s principles go well beyond the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act, which is presumably why Commissioner Kaye included an amendment to the workshop notice to include enhanced CPSC authorities as one of the possible topics to be discussed at the event.

Of course, industry stakeholders likely will want to discuss what some consider to be outdated and ineffective requirements for CPSC recalls that consume finite resources and slow down the recall process. Other issues likely to be raised by industry stakeholders include addressing consumer “recall fatigue” through the use of a tiered system for recalls rather than treating all recalls the same, or the CPSC’s insistence on using the term “recall” for safety announcements that are essentially warnings because they do not involve returning or repairing a product.

Consumer product companies should pay careful attention to what likely will be a small step forward in a much larger and long-running discussion regarding recall effectiveness. Some of the ideas discussed during the event may one day turn into future expectations or requirements for conducting a recall with the CPSC.

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About this Author

Shawn Skolky, Mintz Levin Law Firm, Washington DC, Corporate and Litigation Law Attorney

Shawn advises on many aspects of antitrust and competition law, including antitrust counseling, merger review, and private antitrust litigation, including class actions. His consumer product safety practice focuses on helping companies seeking representation on product safety reporting obligations, recalls, regulatory compliance, product safety investigations, and enforcement matters involving the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and other federal and state product safety laws.

Matthew Howarse, Consumer Safety, Attorney, Mintz Levin, Law Firm

Matt is a prominent consumer product safety lawyer who advises manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, trade associations, and test laboratories. He has extensive experience with compliance, regulatory enforcement, recalls, and other product safety related issues. He represents clients before the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Health Canada, the Federal Trade Commission, Congress, and state agencies. Matt draws on his four-year tenure as the CPSC chief of staff and his many years advising clients in private practice to devise practical and resourceful solutions for clients. He serves as Chair of Mintz’s Consumer Product Safety Practice and president-elect of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO).

Based in Washington, DC, Matt is the Chair of the firm’s Consumer Product Safety Practice. He focuses his practice on consumer product compliance and enforcement issues involving the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), individual US states, the Federal Trade Commission, and Health Canada.

Matt previously served as the Chief of Staff of the CPSC from 2010 to 2013 and as the Chairman’s Senior Counsel in 2009. Matt is very involved in the national and international product safety community and currently serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO).

Matt regularly helps companies seeking representation on product safety reporting obligations, recalls, regulatory compliance, product safety investigations, civil penalties, import investigations, internal compliance programs and training, the CPSC’s public database, and other regulatory and enforcement matters involving the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA), Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA), the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCSPA), and other federal and state product safety laws. He assists clients with navigating complex product safety compliance issues and avoiding unwarranted recalls or enforcement actions.

Matt’s experience includes representing manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of apparel, children’s toys, fitness equipment, office supplies, household furniture, juvenile products, power tools, products requiring child resistant packaging, audio video equipment, arts & crafts materials, books, recreational and sporting equipment, safety equipment, hair care tools, kitchen appliances, lighters, candles, heating and cooling equipment, home decorations, promotional products, household cleaners, and many other types of consumer products. Matt also advises trade associations, testing laboratories, and various other types of clients on product safety issues and represents them before product safety regulators and Congress.

With over 10 years of experience in product safety, including the representation of a wide range of consumer product industries and working in a senior leadership position at the CPSC, Matt is able to provide well rounded, efficient, and thorough advice on the full spectrum of product safety issues.

Charles Samuels Antitrust Attorney Mintz Levin Law Firm

Chuck is an antitrust and regulatory lawyer who devotes a significant portion of his practice to assisting clients with consumer product safety and environmental regulations. He serves as general counsel to numerous trade associations. For the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, Chuck negotiated and drafted amendments to federal laws, including the Consumer Product Safety Act. Corporations in many industries, local governments, and state agencies are also on his client roster. He represents clients before a wide array of federal agencies, including the Consumer Product Safety...