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Monday April 25, 2022

Whoops! PSL Had Its Golden Anniversary without Fanfare

More free Product Safety Letter stories


A subscription to PRODUCT SAFETY LETTER is like adding a person to your staff to dig up must-know developments like these for less than $25 a week, and you learn of hundreds every year.


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Volume 1, Number 1 of Product Safety Letter was dated April 3, 1972. That meant that the April 4, 2022 edition was the closest to the 50th anniversary. Good thing publications are inanimate (probably), so they don't feel neglected if big milestones get overlooked.


Published six-and-a-half months before enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Act, that first issue gives a glimpse into pre-CPSC product safety oversight. It also shows how some matters – indeed patterns – are not just perennial but permanent. Stories covered how:

  • FDA and FTC were working together on a plan to require product ads to include warnings for certain hazards like poisoning. A mandated octagonal logo was possible.

  • A can manufacturer was moving to use plastic coating to guard against cuts from lids.

  • FDA lacked legal authority to push AHAM to adopt clothing ignition standards for electric ranges, leaving the agency to a PR campaign targeting … um … well … "housewives."

  • There was a "key Senate bill" in the works that might create government authority to mandate safety rules for products except tobacco, motor vehicles, and others eventually excluded from CPSC authority. Not a done deal, this bill merited only page 2 placement.

  • FDA was planning to give access, if asked, to certain proprietary information involving products like TVs or microwave ovens subject to the 1968 Radiation Control Act.

  • FDA was pushing for industry standards to address play equipment injuries.

  • The Commerce Department was unlikely to update flammability rules for children's sleepwear due to industry concerns that the changes would be "technologically impracticable."

David Swit (1934-1999) founded Product Safety Letter. Swit's company ran it in the interim between his death and former employee Sean Oberle taking over ownership of the newsletter at the start of 2003.