Around the world … COPOLCO member news
International Consumer Product Health and Safety Symposium
ICPHSO's International Symposium will take place on October 9 and 10 in Queensland, Australia.
This event is the first international consumer product safety conference to be held in Australia and will include the ABCs of product safety, a step by step guide using
ISO 10377:2013, Consumer product safety – Guidelines for suppliers; legislative updates from top government regulatory officials from Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Europe and North America; the impact of social media on product safety; the latest on chemicals and nanotech research from a group of highly respected research groups in Australia and other nations; and the effectiveness of conformity and quality marks.
Founded in 1993, the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) is a non-profit, volunteer-driven, membership-based organization dedicated to providing forums for the exchange of ideas and information on health and safety issues related to consumer products that are manufactured and marketed in the global marketplace. See more.
The world's first standard for ensuring trust in online consumer reviews
Consumers globally are increasingly empowered to compare offers and rate goods and services online. According to a recent survey, almost 9 out of 10 French consumers read online consumer reviews and 89% rate them “useful” or “very useful”. Yet three-fourths of users claim that some consumer reviews are fake.
In response to this pressing concern, AFNOR has released the world's first standard for processing all consumer reviews published on the Web. 43 organizations (businesses, e-commerce industries, consumer groups, trade federations, national authorities and agencies) managed to join forces to build – in the space of just 18 months rather than the standards industry average of 36 months – core rules applicable to all online websites that collect consumer reviews on products, travel, restaurants, and services in general.
This is the world’s very first reference document defining core principles and requirements on how consumer reviews of products and services are collected, moderated and published online. It delivers solutions to build and improve online trust and customer relationships thanks to increased transparency and credibility. Authenticity is assured by requiring genuine reviews which are not bought by companies, with identification of the author and proof that the reviewer actually used the product or service. Moderation must be in the same language as the review, and opinions shall remain inviolable, although the author-consumer retains the right to take them offline. The rating service delivery must show the methods used to calculate ratings, and give the right to reply.
Read more on standard NF Z74-50, which you can order here, and see the press conference video (in French).
DIN Consumer Council requests a standard on unit pricing
The uniform design of information helps consumers to find and compare prices easily. DIN's Consumer Council, noting its 2012 study on the growing diversity of packaging, launched a proposal for a standard for the uniform disclosure of information to consumers, to "unify the design of information on the shelf" in May 2013.
This information includes the final price, unit price and quantity of products at the point of sale. Unit pricing shows the price based on a defined amount, such as 100 milliliters or kilograms. Unit price specification is particularly important for consumers, because it is much easier to compare prices of different pack sizes when shopping.
The proposed new standard specifies twin principles of price clarity and authenticity, by ensuring that the product offering and advertising makes this information easily identifiable and legible; specifications for "easily recognizable" and "readily perceptible" must be considered in the design of the information.
The importance of consumer participation in standardization
Consumer participation in standardization is essential because it ensures consumer confidence in standards and relevance to market needs. When consumers are involved, they tend to understand standards-related issues better, resulting in greater confidence, and ensuring that only market-relevant standards relating to the interests of consumers are developed and promoted.
The role of consumers is relevant both at the technical and policy levels because the consumer is always at the receiving end of the production of goods and services. Indeed, consumers form the largest economic group in any economy. Consumer participation in standardization ought to be seen as a right, not a privilege. For this reason, governments, as representatives of the people, are obliged to address the needs of consumers.
On 5 March, 2013, a Ghanaian NGO, the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), spearheaded a public consultation workshop on a consumer bill. The Ghana Standards Authority contributed, and the bill is now in advanced stages of development.
CPA’s interest in the development and passage of the consumer bill is highly commendable, and is a follow-up effect of an earlier workshop, Consumer Participation in Standardization, which the Ghana Standards Authority organized on 15-16 March 2012. Among other things, the workshop aimed at sensitizing consumers on the importance and relevance of consumer participation in the process of standards development. This workshop greatly influenced many consumers and some consumer groups in relation to the development of policies and laws relating to consumer interests.
For more information contact Mr Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Head of Public Relations, Ghana Standards Authority at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumer and Trading standards conference
This conference and exhibition held on June 17-20, run by The Trading Standards Institute, the professional association for trading standards officers who undertake market surveillance and enforce consumer legislation in the UK, is the key UK consumer event of the year.
Ms Christine Heemskerk, TSI Chair and panelist at COPOLCO's workshop in May, presented a theatre show on the relevance of standards, at a side meeting of the British Standards Institute (BSI) Consumer and Public Interest Network, with Mr Newell Hampson-Jones. BSI also sponsored events to increase school children's knowledge of consumer affairs: the Young Consumers Competition and Consumer Challenge Quiz.
Good practice for gap years – and other adventurous activities
Lots of young people take part in organized activities abroad each year and parents want to be sure that their children are as safe as possible. A recently revised version of the British Standard BS 8848, that sets out the steps that providers should take to minimize risks for those on visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventure holidays is now out for public comment. This is the forerunner of an international standard currently in preparation, ISO/DIS 21101, Adventure tourism – Safety management systems – Requirements.
Standards matter to consumers everywhere
Standards are everywhere – helping to ensure that things, such as the car you drive or the toys your children play with, are safe and easy to use. Standards also cover customer service, such as complaints handling and billing, and tackle key issues such as social responsibility and management of sustainable events. A new BSI consumer publication describes how standards benefit us all, every day.
REGIONAL CONSUMER ISSUES
Standards Asia magazine
Standards Asia features articles on health and wellness, consumer product safety and how Asia is working in ISO/COPOLCO. Download issue 01/2013 here.
Citizen Requirements and Societal Security
Recent disasters demonstrate that meeting citizen needs is central to reducing fatalities and minimizing injury.
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN)'s technical committee CEN/TC 391, Societal and Citizen Security, has unanimously re-affirmed its commitment to addressing citizen requirements in the development of its standards.
A special session will take place on 3 October 2013 in Paris to address the full scope of citizen requirements for societal security. Hosted by the ISO members of France and Germany, AFNOR and DIN, the session has been convened to establish both the full scope of citizen needs in disaster conditions and how these requirements should be structured – for example, as guidelines or requirements?
It is relevant to all those responsible for the protection of people at risk: emergency services/first responders, media representatives, psychologists/psychiatrists, medical, aid agencies, health & safety experts, consumer councils, and university researchers. For more information contact Mr Joost Cornet, Convenor CEN TC 391, E-Mail: email@example.com or Ms Jolien van Zetten, NEN, Secretary to CEN TC 391, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The European Product Safety Package and draft Consumer protection Market Surveillance Regulation
On 13 February, the European Commission adopted a Product Safety Package comprising a proposal for a Consumer Product Safety Regulation (CPSR) to replace the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD), a proposal for Market Surveillance Regulation and multiannual market surveillance plan.
In a joint position, ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardization and BEUC, the European Consumers' Organization, have welcomed the proposal to replace a Directive by a Regulation, but are critical of the deletion of the precautionary principle, and would like consideration to be given to child-appealing products.
In May, ANEC and ORGALIME, the European Engineering Industries Association, issued a joint paper assessing the Proposal for a Regulation on Market Surveillance (MSR).