Testing, inspections can reduce the risk of toxins ending up in products, compliance firm says

Companies that are found to have toxic levels of phthalates in their products can face serious consequences, but there are steps they can take to mitigate risk, according to a leading provider of supply chain compliance solutions.

Hong Kong-based QIMA says phthalates product testing can detect problems in toys before they harm consumers. This can shield manufacturers from civil and criminal liability, as well as damage to their reputation. Phthalates at high levels can pose a cancer risk as well as harm adult fertility, according to QIMA, which offers testing services to businesses in over 120 countries. In a random sampling of 35 China-made plastic toys, QIMA found 25% contained dangerous levels of phthalates such as ethylhexyl. 

The United States, Canada, and the European Union are all phasing out the use of phthalates in products, including toys. Canada restricts six phthalates in children’s toys and articles, and the U.S. has similar regulations for toys and “child care” articles.  E.U. lawmakers have been more aggressive, requiring more rigorous testing of any plasticized toy a child may be reasonably expected to put in their mouth. The E.U. has added to its list of restricted chemicals in recent years, but QIMA says its testing programs can ensure a company’s products meet the stricter guidelines. 

Under CPSIA, the U.S. can levy fines for failure to report possible product hazards to the commission in a timely manner and seek greater criminal penalties. These can include asset forfeiture and imprisonment. And according to Reuters, General Mills is facing a proposed class action lawsuit that accuses them of concealing phthalates in Annie’s Mac & Cheese products. It isn’t clear how much plaintiffs are demanding.

QIMA says they have expertise in all these areas of regulation and its labs are accredited in accordance with several regulatory bodies and international standards. These include the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which maintains the CPSIA regulations governing phthalates in goods. 

According to their website, QIMA has six in-house labs and a network of preferred partners, as well as “industry-leading” turnaround. Further, QIMA says it can perform tests all through a company’s production cycle. Its sample collection process ensures QIMA tests a representative sample of a product and not a sample a company’s supplier may want them to test. 

The company also offers a system for expediting customer complaints, ensuring that they are acknowledged within 24 hours of an email confirmation receipt. 

Companies that test with QIMA can integrate that process with pre-shipment product inspections, the company says. Such inspections target random units from all batches of an order when a company’s production is at least 80% complete. Inspectors then check products against manufacturer quality requirements or those from the market where the goods will be sold. QIMA says this can help mitigate import risks and avoid returns that can harm a brand’s image.  

“Our product inspectors receive regular training in their fields of specialization, including Softlines, Hardlines, Food, and other industries,” the website says.