Product Development Compliance Challenges Continue


In 2017, the Trump Administration rolled back numerous federal regulations to reduce “government red tape” which the Administration contends hamper business operations and innovation. However, several U.S. states continue to impose and vigorously enforce their own regulations on products to protect consumers and the environment. For companies selling nation-wide, this can be a costlier compliance challenge than dealing with federal law. It is more difficult to keep track of all the laws and regulations imposed by state legislatures and state agencies. Further, the state laws and regulations differ.

Here is a recent example. On October 15, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law “The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act.” This law will require on-line ingredient listing for cleaning products by January 1, 2020 and on-package disclosure by January 1, 2021. Buyers of cleaning products will be able to compare products’ ingredients and avoid chemicals of concern which are known to cause adverse health effects. Many companies will reformulate their products to remove harmful chemicals now that the presence of these chemicals will no longer be hidden from view.

In the last few years, states like Washington State, Oregon, Vermont and Maine have required companies selling products into their states to report to the state if their products contain certain levels of chemicals of concern such as Bisphenol A (BPA), lead, cadmium, phthalates, flame retardants and many others. Many states have also banned or restricted the presence of chemicals of concern in children’s products especially.

It is incumbent on all manufacturers, importers and distributors to know what chemicals are contained in their products and to develop a supply chain and operational compliance program to meet the requirements of these state laws or find themselves facing substantial fines and other penalties not to mention adverse publicity and the attention of plaintiffs’ attorneys.