Understanding the Poison Prevention Packaging Act

April 21, 2022
Posted in Packaging
April 21, 2022 Paul Green

The Poison Packaging Prevention Act (PPPA) was enacted in 1970 in an effort to reduce the rate of accidental child poisonings across the country. Understanding and complying with this act is critical to the success of every business that manufactures and distributes packaging for beauty, household chemical, or pharmaceutical industries. Here’s what these companies need to know.

What Is the Poison Packaging Prevention Act?

By the late 1960s, around 500 children were dying each year across the United States due to accidental ingestion of medications and household products. Unintentional poisonings were the leading cause of death in the country for children under the age of five.

Consequently, Congress enacted the PPPA Act (16 CFR 1700), a law that requires all potentially toxic household items to be housed in child-resistant packaging (CRP). Under the act, Congress gave power to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to enforce the strict standards it established for every industry.

Child-Resistant Packaging Requirements Under the Act

According to the law and the CPSC, compliant packaging “must be designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open within a reasonable time, and not difficult for normal adults to use properly, but does not mean packaging which all such children cannot open or obtain a toxic or harmful amount within a reasonable time.” For a company’s product to be child-resistant, a third-party establishment such as Child Related Research must test the packaging according to federal requirements.  

In these tests, children aged between 42 and 51 months are grouped together and given five minutes to attempt to open the child-resistant packaging. If they don’t succeed, they are shown how to open it and given another five minutes to try again. If less than 20% of 200 children tested are able to open the package, it receives the child-resistant certification. Before marketing can be permitted, testing is conducted with senior adults, aged 50 to 70 years. These tests  ensure the product is practical and accessible for the intended group of consumers. If 90% of every 100 adults can open the package, it can be marketed. 

If you’d like to read more about the requirements of child-resistant packaging or read a complete list of products that require or are exempt from CRP, you can find a complete description and list of requirements for products in the Code of Federal Regulations in Title 16, Part 1700. This description is updated from time to time by the Commission, so be sure to check back frequently to see any updates they provide.

The Effects of This Poison Prevention Act

Since the enactment of the PPPA, poison-related child deaths have been reduced from 216 in 1972 to an average of 31 each year since then. By 1978, just a few short years after the PPPA officially went into effect, poison ingestion among children went from 5.7 to 3.4 poisonings per 1,000 children. By the end of the millennium, the death rate of child poisonings had dropped from 2 in 100,000 to a mere 0.5 in 100,000. The act worked and continues to be effective today.

Why Your CRP Company Needs to Understand and Comply With the PPPA

Selling packaging products in such a competitive market is difficult enough without having to keep up with the ever-changing state and federal laws. Knowing the laws that affect your industry is just as important to the health of your business as your sales. Here’s an example to illustrate this point.

In April of 2018, the US District Court in the District of New Jersey issued a $5 million civil penalty to a large corporate pharmaceutical company for an intentional violation of PPPA and child-resistant packaging standards. This was the first civil penalty dealt to a company for PPPA compliance and reporting reasons. Even for the most established companies, $5 million is no small hit. 

The CPSC takes its job of enforcing the PPPA seriously. Failure to comply with child-resistant packaging standards and regulations is treated as a misbranding violation under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDC). Misbranding of this nature could lead to fines and even imprisonment. Any company that violates this law — knowingly or unknowingly — faces severe penalties, even if the violation did not result in an injury.

Stay Compliant With Help From Child Related Research

For over 50 years, Child Related Research (CRR) has forged its reputation as the worldwide leader in testing the efficacy and safety of child-resistant and senior-friendly packaging with a unique focus on the best turnaround time and client service in the industry.  At CRR, we help companies globally like yours determine whether or not your packaging complies with the US and/or International standards for child resistant and senior friendly packaging.  

You can avoid reputation-smearing and a potential bankrupt disaster simply by turning to a child-resistant package testing company to ensure your products comply with US and or international standards. A third-party testing company such as Child Related Research  eliminates guesswork from your job and provides necessary corporate protection. 

Get in touch with Child Related Research today by calling (801)-904-3893 or visit with us at crr.net.

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