KID has been attending the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization’s (ICPHSO) annual symposium since 2001 when our co-founder Linda Ginzel spoke on a panel of parent advocates. This year was no exception, although much has changed in the intervening 20 years.
KID’s Executive Director Nancy Cowles kicked off the week in Florida by hosting a morning session for parent and consumer advocates. We saw the largest attendance ever of consumer advocacy organizations including KID, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG. In addition, Parents Against Tip-overs and Parents for Window Blind Safety were joined by parents fighting for safe sleep, safer fuel containers and gas fireplaces.
These advocates added depth and a new point of view to many panels discussing ways to work collaboratively with industry groups for safety, participation in standard setting, recall effectiveness, enforcement of voluntary standards, communicating with consumers, and online marketplace safety. Other panels could have benefited from a consumer voice – so there is still more work to do.
The parents and advocates built on the networking started the first morning that continued throughout the week, with a dinner hosted by Consumer Reports and other receptions and meetings.
On the final day, KID led a plenary discussion, Ensuring Consumer Safety in Online Marketplaces. Despite the unwillingness of marketplaces to join the panel, it was a strong discussion on the scope of the problem and solutions. Alexandra Berzon, who helped research and write a Wall Street Journal article on the topic, highlighted her findings. Adam Garber, Consumer Watchdog for U.S. PIRG, spoke how his experiences as a new father expanded his view of product safety – especially with online shopping. Pinuccia Contino, head of the product recall unit for the European Commission spoke of their efforts to keep marketplaces safe, both by surveillance and cooperation with online sellers. To bring a slightly different perspective, Teena Bohi of the Auto Anti-Counterfeiting Council, detailed the steps the auto industry has taken to reduce the number of dangerous auto parts for sale online.
ICPHSO is a unique organization, offering one of the few opportunities for all stakeholders in product safety – consumers, industry, regulators and others – to interact and learn from each other. In recognition of KID’s 20 years working both to increase the consumer voices at ICPHSO and build this important organization, KID’s Nancy Cowles was awarded the Ross Koeser Achievement Award at the Symposium. This is a real honor and a tribute to KID’s mission to fight for product safety – in this and many other arenas.
You can learn more about ICPHSO here.