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The CPSC is Now Publicly Posting “Letters of Advice” to its Website

In his keynote address at the annual conference of the International Consumer Product Health & Safety Organization (ICPHSO), Acting Chairman Adler announced that the CPSC had recently started posting what it calls “letters of advice” (commonly referred to as LOAs) to its website. You can see this new page on the agency’s website by clicking here. The CPSC’s website states the LOAs listed are limited to those where the Commission has received a response from a company confirming the violation and the agency is satisfied with the company’s voluntary corrective action to remedy the violation.

As described in CPSC’s regulated products handbook, a letter of advice is a notification to a manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer from the CPSC that states the agency has determined a product manufactured, imported distributed and/or sold by a company violates a specific CPSC enforced statute, rule, standard, ban, or regulation. The letter also advises companies of the nature of the "necessary corrective action," usually in the form of a request to correct future production; to stop sale and correct future production; or to conduct a full consumer recall, stop sale, and correct future production.

The agency is not currently posting actual copies of the letters to CPSC.gov. Instead, the website contains a downloadable grid that lists the following information about each company and the product alleged to violate a CPSC statute or regulation: 

  •  Company Name
  • Company Address
  • Product Name
  • Model Information (if applicable)
  • Primary Violation
  • Remedial Action Requested
  • Country of Manufacture
  • Name of Foreign Manufacturer (if applicable)
  • Date of Issuance

The CPSC has previously released this information publicly, but it was only released once a year in the agency’s Annual Report to Congress and the President. The agency has also recently started listing violations found at the ports in a quarterly “port surveillance news” press release. However, the new policy announced by Acting Chairman Adler marks the first time the agency has publicly posted a frequently updated list of LOAs on its website. The most recent letters on the website were issued just one month ago and it was last updated just two weeks ago. The LOAs only date back to October of 2012.

The limitation of the LOAs being posted  to those where a company and the CPSC have reached an agreement does give some breathing room to companies and counsel who wish to appeal an LOA and present evidence to the agency that their product does not violate a CPSC-enforced statute or regulation. Moving forward, companies should be aware that the company and product information contained in an LOA will be publicly posted on CPSC.gov relatively quickly after resolution of the violation with the CPSC instead of only being published in the annual report along with hundreds of other LOAs.

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Author

Matthew R. Howsare

Member / Chair, Consumer Product Safety

Matthew R. Howsare is a prominent consumer product safety lawyer at Mintz. He advises manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, trade associations, and test laboratories on compliance, regulatory enforcement, recalls, and other product safety issues.