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What agency ensures the safety of consumer products?

Most consumer products safety falls under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They have jurisdiction over consumer products that cover such mundane every day types of products from toys to lawn mowers and even fireworks. Though they cover a multitude of products that most people use on a regular day to day basis they do not have a comprehensive jurisdiction over all consumer products.

Depending on the product in question safety issue can fall under the jurisdiction of other Federal agencies. Automobiles and motorcycles as well as other automotive vehicle safety, for example, falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. Food and drug safety falls under the jurisdiction of, not surprisingly, the Food and Drug Administration. It should be noted that, though the safety of drugs themselves falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA, the safety and efficacy of child resistant packaging that they are dispensed in falls under the jurisdiction of a different agency other than the FDA.

The main reason for the farming out of safety jurisdictions to all the different Federal agencies instead of having one umbrella that handles them all is volume and expediency. The deaths, injuries and private as well as public property damage that is inflicted on consumers from defective products annually costs the nation collectively over a trillion dollars. If one agency had to handle all the workload of investigating and processing all of these incidents it would grind to a halt very quickly.

Add to that, in certain situations, for example, drug interactions or automotive brake failure. In order to investigate incidents effectively, a certain niche level of familiarity and understanding of the related industry and its particulars is required. Thus it best serves everyone's interest that the federal agency that is tasked with overseeing that specific industry be also tasked with policing and maintaining its products' safety.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, "Products Under the Jurisdiction of Other Federal Agencies and Federal Links," Accessed May 18, 2015

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