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China Product Safety Seminars

July 6, 2009

I’m writing this blog from Zhuhai, China where tomorrow I will be participating in the first of 3 product safety seminars sponsored by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.  CCPIT, also known as the China Chamber of International Commerce, was established in 1952 and is considered the most important and largest institution for the promotion of foreign trade in China.  Together with representatives of the law firm of Holland & Knight and their China Risk Avoidance Team, we will be reviewing the US product safety legal system and Federal, state, and industry regulations for a wide variety of consumer products.  Additional seminars this week will be held in Wuhan and Dongguan, and approximately 100 people are expected at each – local government officials as well as local business owners and industry representatives.


At dinner this evening with representatives of CCPIT, I was pleased that they seemed quite eager to understand the US legal system (which Holland & Knight will be covering) as well as the regulatory requirements and potential hazards associated with various product categories such as Apparel, Houseware/Drinkware, Children’s Products, Writing Instruments, Electronics, Jewelry, and Health & Beauty Aids (which I will be addressing). 


My favorite part of the seminar is the case studies at the end.  They are based on actual product recalls, with company names and products changed to protect “the innocent” (?).  We will be brainstorming with the attendees on what each company could have done to eliminate the product hazard and avoid the recall.  In some of these cases, the companies believed they took all necessary steps and did everything right – and yet the finished product presented a hazard or non-compliance.  Sometimes it’s a matter of classification – could the item be considered a children’s product?  In other cases, a manufacturing process contaminated the product (cleaning the printing screen with leaded gasoline, for example). 


I do believe that knowledge is power, and am excited that CCPIT arranged these seminars.  I did see today’s Product Safety Daily article, “The bad goods from China”, and can’t argue with the number of recalls of China-made product.  But the people I have been speaking with seem quite anxious to better understand US laws and safety standards.  Is it too much to hope that recalls will decrease as a result of product safety knowledge?