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CR packages: another bone of contention

Among the packaging regulatory battlegrounds between Europeans and Americans is child resistant packaging. It is covered by ISO 8317, which is considerably weaker than the law established here by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Alexander Perritt, CEO of Perritt Laboratories, Inc., Hightstown, NJ, the current chairman of the ASTM D-10 packaging committee, says the ISO standard does not cover non-recloseable blister and strip packages, and therefore Europeans cannot export those types of unit packages here. Moreover, the ISO standard allows a company to test as few as 30 children in one location to prove how difficult it is for them to open a "child-resistant" package. The CPSC law requires a total of 50 children be tested-five groups of 10-at five different locations. Because of concerns about the difficulties senior citizens have opening child-resistant packages, the CPSC recently changed the law to require companies to include a greater number of older individuals in test groups. Starting in January 1998, adult test panels will have to include those ages 50-70. Previously, they only had to include ages 18-45. This, too, conflicts with adult test panel compositions required under ISO 8317. Also, the CPSC law allows children to use their teeth when trying to open a package. The ISO standard prohibits that. The bottom line for U.S. companies wanting to export to Europe is that they have to get their child-resistant packaging tested twice, once to make sure it complies with the CPSC requirements, the second time to square the packaging with ISO 8317. "We haven't had much luck getting ISO to bring its standard in line with ours," states Perritt.

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