REMARKS OF COMMISSIONER PETER A. FELDMAN, U.S. CPSC
NEW YORK TOY FAIR 2019, TOY SAFETY SEMINAR
NEW YORK, NY
FEBRUARY 18, 2019
Good morning, and thank you to Steve Pasierb, Ed Desmond, and Rebecca Mond for inviting me to be here today.
And thank you to the Toy Association staff, members, and exhibitors who make Toy Fair the premiere industry event that it is. I would also like to thank Michael Lynch on my staff who is here with me.
And of course I’m always glad to see our Acting Chairman, Ann Marie Buerkle.
This is my first time at Toy Fair, but I’m familiar with the Toy Association and the great advocacy work it does in Washington and across your industry.
Because I am new to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and because I am meeting some of you for the first time, perhaps it is appropriate for me to speak about my background and enforcement priorities for the agency.
I joined CPSC in October 2018. Before that, I spent seven years working as Senior Counsel on the Senate Commerce Committee.
In that capacity, I served as chief advisor to then-Chairman John Thune on policy, legislation and investigations into consumer matters, including product safety, technology and privacy, and data security.
In that role, I led the Committee’s efforts overseeing the CPSC as it worked to implement new requirements under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) and P.L. 112-28.
Those were turbulent years, born of crisis in 2007, the so-called “Summer of Recalls.”
But the reforms of CPSIA were largely effective, as evidenced by an overall drop in the number of toy recalls.
There were 172 toy recalls in Fiscal Year 2008. By Fiscal Year 2012, that number dropped to 38 and has leveled off somewhat in the intervening years.
Fiscal Year 2018 saw 18 toy recalls, the lowest number of toy recalls in the CPSIA-era.
Commensurate with the reduction in the overall number of recalls, the nature of the associated hazards has changed as well.
In 2008, 19 of the 172 recalls involved lead levels in toys in excess of the prescribed statutory standard.
That number has dropped precipitously, with some years’ toy recalls involving only non-lead product hazards.
And all of this has happened as the agency has made significant investment into our import surveillance and lead detection capabilities.
Unfortunately, Fiscal Year 2018 saw an uptick in lead-related recalls, underscoring, in my view, the continued importance of vendor sourcing, supply chain integrity, and testing.
The vast majority of recent toy recalls involve other violations like small parts, choking hazards, and sharp points.
Clearly there is more work to be done.
But it is my hope that we are now in a place where CPSC can work collaboratively with industry to ensure that toys are safe and the children who play with them are protected.
To that end, CPSC continues to remain engaged with industry, testing labs, and the ASTM F963 working group.
The agency continues to allocate resources to import and market surveillance activities.
We must identify and pursue burden reduction opportunities where appropriate and where safety would not be negatively implicated.
And it is incumbent upon the agency to remain abreast of changing technology trends and consumer preferences with an eye toward emerging hazards.
This is something the agency can and must do.
One such area is the Internet of Things, connected devices, or as you know them, connected toys. Here, we must balance safety and innovation.
Because this product sector is still nascent, it is my philosophy that federal regulations should focus on actual harms as opposed to hypothetical worst case scenarios. We must remain mindful of the potential benefits these technologies may offer consumers, the economy, and overall safety.
With respect to CPSC’s role, the agency’s focus must always be on eliminating unreasonable risk of injury, rather than regulating privacy and security, or other areas that fall outside of the agency’s jurisdiction.
Because we may see situations arise where a security vulnerability and a product hazard or injury risk share a common nexus, it makes sense for CPSC to work with our sister agencies to develop protocols and frameworks that preserve industry’s ability to innovate, but place us in a better posture to react if and when a crisis arises.
That is why I am pleased to announce the CPSC is convening an interagency working group to focus on connected devices, including toys.
This is an ongoing conversation, and my door is always open – both to you and to the advocacy community.
I want to congratulate the Toy Association on the safety education program it announced today. I look forward to watching how this program grows.
I also want to congratulate the association on its partnership with Bureau Veritas and its work to expand access to its regulator database. This sounds like a useful tool for members to stay current with regulations across a variety of markets, including the United States.
In closing, I want to reiterate my thanks for inviting me to be here today and for your leadership in the toy industry.
I hope you all enjoy the rest of the show and I look forward to seeing you on the floor.