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Consumer Products and Retail Navigator
January 18, 2024

CPSC Recall Communications: Spanish Language Update

Consumer Products and Retail Navigator

In recent years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has made significant efforts to reach underserved communities, including by adopting and updating a CPSC Equity Action Plan that seeks to identify and address disparities in injury and death rates in minority communities. Individual commissioners have prioritized such outreach — including Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric’s remarks to safety organizations, Commissioner Mary Boyle’s messaging on racial disparities in infant death statistics, and Commissioner Peter Feldman’s visits to tribal communities. Now, at the urging of Commissioner Richard Trumka, Jr., CPSC staff may begin pushing companies that conduct voluntary recalls to join in that effort by providing recall messaging in Spanish and potentially other languages.

In the debate leading to the agency’s Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Operating Plan, Trumka offered an amendment to add to the Office of Compliance and Field Operations list of FY24 Priority Activities: “Encourage commitments from recalling firms to communicate recall information to consumers in Spanish and additional languages commonly spoken in the United States. Staff shall report periodically on the results of these efforts.” In offering this amendment, Trumka remarked that “Over 20% of Americans don’t speak English at all [but] deserve the same information, the same chance to protect themselves and their families as anyone else.” This amendment was adopted, along with amendments offered by Boyle to direct CPSC staff to “continue to make agency translation and dissemination of recalls and recall alerts in Spanish a priority” and “identify and implement cost-effective and timely translation service options to reach speakers of Spanish.”

Typically, CPSC has relied on third-party services to translate recall notices, and then posted those to the CPSC website, though these translations can lag behind the English postings. The FY24 Operating Plan, as amended, could narrow the lag in the agency’s non-English recall communications.

CPSC’s existing requirements for communicating recall information, as reflected in CPSC’s current Recall Handbook, are comprehensive and can require significant efforts to coordinate internally and with CPSC. In light of the commission’s new emphasis on communicating recalls in Spanish and other languages, including requiring staff to provide the commission with periodic progress reports on these efforts, recalling companies should expect that CPSC staff will likely pay increased attention to multi-lingual recall notices. This is particularly the case for products that are significantly marketed in other languages.

For questions about your company’s compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), timely reporting and recalls under Section 15(b) of the CPSA, or other product safety matters, please reach out to the authors or any of their colleagues on Arnold & Porter’s Consumer Product Safety team.

© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2024 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.