Thursday, January 29, 2009

Here's an idea

If we choose to buy that unlabeled cookie at the local bake sale, is that illegal? Or is that within our scope of free choice? How about the bowl of popcorn at the bar? I would not take a handful given that I do not know what is in them nor whose hands have touched them. But I don't deny others the right to do so nor is that illegal. So let's look at children's products the way we look at food products. After all, those fat, sugar and calorie laden kids foods aren't illegal. It's just that one look at the ingredient label and many people don't buy them.

First of all, let's set a reasonable age - items for children under 3 is good and is the accepted age cutoff for choking hazard warnings so why not this? Why 12 and under when the sole reason for doing so is just because those children are likely to have younger siblings? Secondly, allow common sense component testing. Then just mandate that all these items must be labeled with an 'ingredient-like' label listing the lead and phthalate levels or a label with a warning that these levels are unknown. We use food labels to determine what products we choose to eat and to offer to our children - do the same thing here. Empower us with good information on which to base our decisions. The free market will determine the success of items that are labeled with unacceptable or unknown levels.

Rather than a pass/fail type of system, a quantifiable number can be used. By identifitying the amount of the substance, it will allow for future changes in determining an acceptable level. Under the current requirements, when the lead limit falls to 300 ppm, a product deemed 'safe' under the 600 ppm law will then be 'unsafe'. Then when other substances need to be tracked they can simply be added to that 'ingredient' label. Some parents may want to choose to only buy products that are less than 100 ppm now and they should be enabled to make that decision now.

I see parents handing their children donuts and cookies to eat and heading straight for McDonalds for french fries. Do I approve? No. Would I do that with my kids? No. Do I believe in their right to make that decision? Yes. Because many decisions are not that simple and government cannot dictate at that level, even if we all agreed. In Illinois I can legally put my child on a motorcycle without a helmet. A parent can take their child to a monster truck show and risk a part being propelled through the air and killing that child. A parent can get a pet Rottweiler who ultimately turns vicious and kills the child. A parent can give their child a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and that child can die from salmonella poisoning. A parent can give their child a taco and the child can die from bacteria in the tomatoes - oops I mean the lettuce. And therein lies my point. No one can provide 100% safety for themselves or their children. The best we can do is get good information and improve the odds. And it is up to each of us to determine the level of risk that we are willing to take. I admire those that actively seek out safer foods, cleaning products, beauty products, medicines and drugs. I am trying to become more aware and make better choices. It is my right to choose to do that or to not do that. And if I choose to buy that unlabeled cookie at the bake sale or the unlabeled hair bow for my child's hair, I strongly believe that is my choice to make. All I ask is for the information to be available to make an intelligent decision. And if it is not made available, it remains my choice whether or not to purchase the product.

So what is unworkable about this idea? Seems fair to me.

1 comment:

sassypackrat said...

Are you still putting together a lead testing party?