U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission  (CPSC) officers will target more imported merchandise for safety risk assessments using information filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection by importers or their customs brokers. The CPSC is an independent health and safety regulatory agency that is responsible for protecting the American public from unreasonable risks of injury and death from about 15,000 types of consumer products. Since the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, CPSC increased the number of staff co-located with U.S. Customs at U.S. ports of entry.  Recently, U.S. Customs Commissioner Alan Bersin and CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum signed a memorandum of understanding to create an Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC).

CTAC is the culmination of President Obama’s Food Safety Working Group  focused on (1) prevention, (2) surveillance, and (3) responding to the attempted importation into the United States of unsafe products.  The authority of CPSC officers is modeled after the authority and actions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

CPSC will soon issue its own Detention Notices, rather than having U.S. Customs do it, for imported cargo that is suspected of being unsafe.  CPSC will not only target and detain toys, games, and other children’s’ products, but also products previously screened only the FDA – food, cosmetic, medical devices, and dietary supplements.

The $600,000 penalty that Target Corp., of Minneapolis, Minn. has agreed to pay to CPSC for allegedly violating the federal lead paint ban on toys is merely a prelude to the type of civil penalties to be assessed against importers for attempting to import and sell unsafe products.

Is the CPSC doing enough to keep unsafe products out of the United States, or being too aggressive and bureaucratic? Sound off with a comment below.