Product safety standards – do your homework and due diligence

What people are saying about Mulberry Fields
“What you say is absolutely true about what you need to do in order to succeed in China.” – a company in Italy

There are many safety standards that a product must conform to if is sold in the US, Canada or Europe. Depending on your industry, your product and your customer’s specific requirements you might be doing any number of tests e.g. flammability testing if you have apparel or upholstered furniture, small parts testing for baby and kids items, lead, cadmium, phthalate tests for kid’s items and food related items, testing or fumigation for wooden product or palletized orders. And the list goes on and on and on.

When you are developing a product, make sure you know what the testing requirements are for that product and then pass on these requirements to the vendor early in the game so as to give them all the notice they need to get in compliance. Because China does not have the same strict consumer safety regulations that the US and Europe have your vendor may have to go outside his own network of suppliers to find an environmentally friendly supplier. This may take time and will cost more. A couple of years ago I was working on a kid’s bag and the PU straps on the bag had to be phthalate free. The vendor I was working with explained to me that not all the PU vendors he dealt with had phthalate free PU and that the minimums for this material would be higher than for regular PU. It was an obstacle but it was good to know this early on when we were still in the prototyping stage.

It is also important that you get your samples tested both in China and locally. Don’t rely on vendor assurances that their products are compliant, or that they have been tested. And don’t consent to use vendor designated product testing labs. Do it yourself. There are several big international testing agencies in China e.g. BV, SGS, Intertek and you can arrange with your vendor to have your product sent to the agency you choose. But also test product on your side with local product testing labs (most big cities have them). Make sure you tell your vendor that you are going to have the samples tested and that if it fails you will just lose more time. That should give them the incentive to do it right. Needless to say, all testing requirements should be spelled out clearly on spec sheets and sales contracts.


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