ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores here has launched an online network designed to help retailers access manufacturer certificates showing that a product has been tested in conformance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Beginning in February, the act, which is overseen by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) but administered at the state level, will require manufacturers to provide retailers with “general conformity certificates,” and retailers will be expected to present them in the event of an inspection by state authorities.
“This creates a daunting compliance issue for retailers, distributors and manufacturers,” said Steve Perlowski, vice president of member relations and industry affairs for NACDS. “So we developed a solution whereby retailers could readily obtain a certificate should a state attorney general come into a store, grab a product and ask to see the certificate.”
The products subject to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, while primarily those intended for children 12 and under, include a wide range of nonfood items such as pharmaceuticals, OTC medications, cosmetics, toys and stationery, as well as some candy, noted Perlowski. Tamper-resistant packaging is subject to testing and certificate requirements as well, he added. The certificates demonstrate that the products passed safety tests established by the CPSC.
The online network — dubbed the Certificate Exchange Network (CEN) — will be available at no cost to retailers, distributors and manufacturers who are members of NACDS. NACDS members include numerous food retailers that operate pharmacies, such as Supervalu, Wal-Mart, Ahold USA, Food Lion, A&P, H.E. Butt Grocery, Hy-Vee, Publix, Schnuck Markets, Wakefern and Wegmans. Major food retailers that are not members of NACDS include Kroger and Safeway.
Companies that are not NACDS members will be able to access the network for a size-based fee ranging from $200 to $10,000, and averaging in the “high hundreds of dollars,” said Nick Parnaby, founder and chief operating officer of Rollstream, McLean, Va. Rollstream is the provider of the network infrastructure supporting CEN.
The conformance certificates will either be loaded into CEN, or CEN will serve as a conduit to the location of the certificate, such as a manufacturer's website, explained Parnaby.