Child-Resistant Packaging Testing Definition and Requirements

April 13, 2022
Posted in Packaging
April 13, 2022 Paul Green

Every day, emergency rooms all over the country treat more than 300 children for poison-related accidents. This number is too high, but it was considerably higher before President Nixon signed the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 (PPPA) into law in 1970. The PPPA requires child-safe packaging for substances that would be toxic if ingested by children.

Today, there are strict child-resistant testing measures in place to make container closures harder for young kids to bypass. This article overviews those testing procedures in addition to a common mistake made among industry professionals and parents that leads to frequent child poisonings.

What Is Child-Resistant Packaging Testing?

The PPPA requires that prescription/OTC drugs, household chemicals, and other hazardous or toxic materials be distributed in child-resistant packaging. In order for a package to be considered child resistant, it must pass extensive testing in trials with real children and meet the legal definition of child resistance.

The basic legal child-resistant packaging requirements for prescription drugs and other substances are that the package must be hard for a child under the age of five to open in a reasonable amount of time without being unnecessarily difficult for adults to open.

How Is Child-Resistant Package Testing Carried Out?

Child-resistant package testing companies, like Child Related Research, begin their package testing with a wide variety of package types which contain safe placebo substances. Experienced researchers gather an equal number of male and female child participants between the ages of 42 and 51 months and monitor them as they attempt to open the package. Each child can only test two packages in their lifetime, and those packages must be different types of packaging. If the child is not able to open the package within five minutes, they will be given a visual demonstration. If, after five more minutes, the child still is not able to open the package, the test is counted asa success. Ninety percent of a panel of 50 children must be unable to open the package for the package to be deemed child-resistant.

Bottle and closure packages are deemed a failure if a child is able to open them, but unit-dose packaging passes and fails by different standards. If a child can open more than eight individual units (or the designated amount that is considered toxic to a child), then that test is counted as a failure. The same 90% effectiveness requirement for a 50 child panel applies to unit packaging.

Acceptable child-resistant packaging must also be reasonably easy for an adult to open. Therefore, package testing facilities must also conduct tests on older people to see that this requirement is fulfilled. Testing is carried out among adults aged 50 to 70 years. Adults can participate in up to two tests of different package types, per sitting. Packages that are openable by adults within one minute are counted as successes. Effectiveness of 90% of a 100 adult panel is required to pass the protocol requirement.

A Fatally Common Misconception About Child-Resistant Packaging

When clients schedule their child-resistant packaging, they frequently come with the expectation that package-testing companies will make their products childproof. This is not the case, and it’s one of the most common misunderstandings that exists in the child-resistant testing industry.

In reality, no container is truly childproof. There has to be a way for adults to open their products, and given enough time, a child might be able to figure out how it opens. Child-resistant packaging is merely meant to slow a child down if they attempt to access a dangerous substance. This buys parents a little extra time to find their child before they can open the packaging. Many child-resistant closures are deceptively marketed as “childproof,” and as a result, parents let their guards down.

Call Child Related Research for Further Information

If you’d like to learn more about the package testing process or how to ensure the child-resistant properties of your product, contact Child Related Research. It’s our mission to inform every industry and parent about child-resistant packaging to make the world safer for everyone’s children.