New Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database

24 March 2011 Publication

Legal News Alert: Commercial Transactions & Business Counseling

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has established a publicly available consumer product safety information database that could have a direct and immediate impact on consumer goods manufacturers. The public database, found on www.saferproducts.gov, provides consumers with the ability to search consumer “reports of harm,” recall notices, and other information that the CPSC determines to be in the public interest.

The database allows consumers to submit reports of harm or risks of harm (Reports) involving consumer products. Those submitting Reports on the database are asked to provide details about the harm or risk of harm related to the consumer product. After undergoing a cursory screening by the CPSC, the Reports are made available to the public on the database.

A manufacturer that receives a copy of a Report from the CPSC may comment on the Report and can choose whether to have its comments published online along with the Report. A manufacturer also can object to the publication of a Report that contains confidential or materially-inaccurate information.

A manufacturer may register on the Web site to receive email notification when a Report is received. If a manufacturer is not registered, the CPSC will send a Report to it through the mail.

The database went live on March 11, 2011 with product recall notices only. Consumer Reports are expected to go public in April 2011.

Report and Comment Timing and Process

The CPSC has established a relatively short period of time between when a Report is submitted and when the Report is posted on the database. The timeline is as follows:

  • A consumer submits a Report to the CPSC
  • The CPSC sends a copy of the Report to the manufacturer, generally within five business days after submission
  • Reports are posted 10 business days after the CPSC sends a copy of the Report to the manufacturer. Therefore, Reports are generally posted approximately 15 business days after they are submitted.

A manufacturer may submit a comment in response to a Report at any time. However, if a manufacturer wants its comments to appear on the database at the same time as the consumer’s Report, it must comment within a sufficient period of time, prior to the publication date, to allow the CPSC to review the comments.

Manufacturers’ Comments

Comments are optional, but, in many cases, it will be in the manufacturer’s best interest to file a comment that will be posted along with the consumer’s Report. The primary benefits of filing a comment include:

  • Designating information contained in the Report as “confidential” and having it redacted prior to publication (note: timely comments are especially important if confidential information is at risk of publication, as even accidental publication could lead to a permanent loss of confidential status for the information disclosed)
  • Requesting removal or correction of materially-inaccurate information contained in the Report
  • Public relations benefits associated with Web site users viewing the manufacturer’s comments jointly with the Report

What You Can Do Right Now

Prior to this rule, consumers did not have product safety information immediately available or in a searchable format. The extent to which this new rule will affect manufacturers is unknown, but we suggest taking the following actions:

  • Register at https://www.saferproducts.gov/CPSRMSPublic/Industry/Home.aspx so that you can receive prompt notice of any reports filed against your company
  • Provide and maintain updated contact information for your company, including the title and contact information of the person to whom Reports should be directed
  • Establish internal procedures for commenting on Reports in a timely fashion
  • Establish internal procedures for investigating Reports to determine whether your company has an obligation to report to the CPSC under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act


Legal News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our clients and colleagues.

If you have any questions about this alert or would like to discuss the topic further, please contact your Foley attorney or the following individuals:

Robert J. Vechiola
Chicago, Illinois
312.832.4597
rvechiola@foley.com

Jacob D. Babcock
Chicago, Illinois
312.832.4373
jbabcock@foley.com

 

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