Consumers assume that all products in the market are ”safe”.  The majority of major chain retailers have procedures in place to ensure their suppliers are testing products that meet all voluntary and mandatory safety standards.  However, in the last few years, the presence of online retail has grown significantly. Many online marketplaces do not have the same requirements as big box retailers.  Many products purchased online are unknown brands and sold via online platforms. Items can be imported by these companies and sold through online marketplaces without passing any safety standards.

Seal of approval

The Consumer Product Safety Commission introduced the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), which included provisions addressing — among other things — lead, phthlates, toy safety, durable infant or toddler products, third-party testing and certification and tracking labels. Juvenile companies in the United States are required to abide by CPSIA and ensure all their products comply. Imported products are supposed to comply as well, but online marketplaces do not validate if products are in compliance and consumers assume what they are purchasing online is safe.

"You may be able to save a significant amount of money online with products that appear safe, but make sure to do your homework on the company before purchasing..."

Buyer beware

Also, an organization called the American Society of Testing & Materials International (ASTM) develops and publishes voluntary standards for children’s products. Most respected manufacturers comply with the voluntary ASTM standards, in addition to other voluntary certification through organizations such as the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. The cost of testing products to ensure they are compliant not only with the federal laws but also the voluntary standards is quite high, which puts legitimate companies at a disadvantage to unknown imports. You may be able to save a significant amount of money online with products that appear safe, but make sure to do your homework on the company before purchasing a similar-looking item at a fraction of the price.