Water quality counts in product manufacturing

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When handling children’s putty or art materials, most people don’t think about the water used in making these products. Likewise, they don’t think about the water source for a liquid foundation in a cosmetics line or body lotion.

Chances are, manufacturing took place in a country that may have used water from an unsuitable source.  If you wouldn’t drink that water, then why would you want it to be used in a cosmetic product or an art material that a child might put in their mouths– especially if that product is going to sit on a (warm) container ship, possibly incubating bacteria as it travels to North America?  And even if the product was from a North American manufacturer with a “suitable” water source, you can’t assume the equipment used during production was clean and sanitary to start with.

Products that come in contact with skin or may be swallowed pose a high health risk for consumers. Along with that, microbiological contamination can lead to adverse effects in the product itself, including discoloration, foul odors and growth of mold.  Whether you are a retailer or a manufacturer, meeting current regulatory compliance standards for safety is crucial.

The U.S. government addresses this risk by requiring that all liquids, pastes, putties, powders and gels for human body contact or children’s use be tested according to USP 61 and 62.   These are standardized “United States Pharmacopoeia” test methods performed in a third-party laboratory to evaluate microbial content in a product, and certify if it meets established thresholds for safety. Specifically:

USP 61: Microbial enumeration test:   Reports the total aerobic microbial (plate) count and the total combined yeasts and molds count

USP 62: Tests for specified microorganisms:  Tests if any of the following are present: Salmonella, E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridia, Candida albicans, and Bile-tolerant gram-negative bacteria

We can guide you on what testing is necessary annually for your private label health and beauty or children’s products, so you can have assurance your product won’t get hung up at the border for lack of certification.  While some formulations are exempted from this testing because of their low moisture content, it is important to let the third-party lab experts determine which specific materials quality for exemption.

Taking some basic early steps to ensure the safety of your product can help avoid spoiled products and even dire health consequences for the consumer.

About the Author
I know how Amazon investigates safety and compliance concerns because I wrote some of their internal investigation procedures. I spent four years at Amazon building out compliance requirements and training their associates. Before that, I spent twenty years helping Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Costco, Eddie Bauer and other large retailers deal with quality, safety and compliance issues on a wide range of products, from hardlines to softlines and food to supplements.

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