The responsibilities of retailers for safety and health issues that arise in the supply chain became a recurring topic of discussion at the 20th annual International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) meeting and training symposium held on February 26-March 1, 2013, just outside Washington, D.C. Representatives from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or Commission), consumer product retailers, and others spoke about retailers’ past and future involvement with the Commission’s efforts to protect consumers from unsafe products.
In recent years, retailers have become involved in an increasing number of recalls of products for which they are not the manufacturer. The Commission typically prefers to work with manufacturers – as compared to retailers or others in the supply chain – to implement recalls for several reasons: (1) manufacturers usually have a superior knowledge about the product and supply chain; (2) they are usually in the best position to offer an appropriate remedy or fix; and (3) it is more efficient to deal with one manufacturer as opposed to multiple retailers. Retailers, however, have become useful allies of the Commission, and the CPSC does not hesitate to approach retailers when necessary. CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler explained that the Commission usually contacts retailers about recalls when a manufacturer has gone out of business or has chosen not to cooperate with the CPSC. Staff spoke about retailers’ unique ability to apply pressure to noncompliant manufacturers as well as to get word out to consumers about unsafe products. CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum thanked retailers for their continued cooperation in conducting voluntary recalls during her keynote address at the annual meeting.