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With millions of children home due to school closures, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently issued checklists with guidance on keeping homes safe during this period. Protecting children from accidental ingestion of potentially harmful products found in the home featured prominently in these documents. CPSC’s current focus on poison prevention continues a recent trend of increased enforcement of child-resistant closure requirements under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA). We previously noted an uptick in recalls of products containing lidocaine for PPPA violations and predicted that this trend would not only continue but also expand to other products. As we expected, recalls for PPPA violations rose to 14 in 2019. These recalls involved various products, including those containing lidocaine, dietary supplements, prescription medication, and wintergreen essential oils. To date, the CPSC has already announced nine recalls for PPPA violations in 2020, including eight recalls in March for prescription drugs, chemical products and a pain relieving skin cream.

These recent recalls are occurring at a time when supply chains are under tremendous strain due to the COVID-19 crisis. As states and municipalities scramble to contain the coronavirus pandemic, many have shut down all but “essential” services, which threatens to limit the manufacture of packaging and its components. To help guide local decisions on business closures and restrictions, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) published its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response on March 19, 2020. As noted in our sister blog, The Daily Intake, the guidance was broad in scope. However, only packaging for Food and Agriculture products was initially expressly covered, despite the critical role that child-resistant closures and packaging play in ensuring the continued supply of numerous essential goods and services. After pushback from business, CISA published version 2.0 of its guidance on March 28, which broadened coverage of the packaging supply chain to include not just Food and Agriculture, but Transportation and Logistics.

Allowing companies manufacturing child-resistant packaging to continue to operate is critical. Restrictions on the ability to manufacture and distribute child-resistant packaging would have resulted in even greater shortages of essential products like medicines and many household cleaners, including sanitizing cleaners.

Despite the strains on supply chains, companies selling medications and household chemicals remain vigilant about maintaining compliance procedures for both the product and the packaging. At a time when market needs are rising, it is vital that new entrants into the cleaning and sanitizing market educate themselves about all regulatory requirements before introducing these products. This will avoid the costs and disruptions of regulatory enforcement should the product or packaging not comply. More importantly, use of proper packaging is crucial to protect children, especially at a time when so many families are confined to their homes.