New York Governor Andrew Coumo Introduces the Consumer Right to Know Act

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced as part of his Executive Budget a proposal that would protect New Yorkers from unknown exposure to toxic chemicals. The “Consumer Right to Know Act” would authorize the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, in consultation with the Department of Health and the Department of State, to develop regulations establishing on-package labeling requirements for designated products indicating the presence of potentially hazardous chemicals, including carcinogens. Video of the Governor announcing this proposal is available on YouTube here.

“The more we know about our exposure to chemicals, the more frightening the situation is,” Governor Cuomo said in a press conference. “Consumers have the right to know what is in the products they use, and requiring labeling on designated products will provide consumers with the information they deserve.”

According to Governor Cuomo, under this proposal, the agencies will assess the feasibility of on-package labeling and develop regulations establishing a labeling requirement for designated products, developing a list of more than 1,000 carcinogens and other chemicals that will trigger labeling requirements and identifying the types of consumer products that will be subject to the new regime.

In addition, the legislation will extend the Department of Environmental Conservation’s previously established household cleaning product disclosure requirements to cover all cleaning products sold in New York State, and it will give the Department of Health the authority to require similar disclosure for the manufacturers of personal care products like shampoo, deodorant or baby powder. Under these requirements, cleaning product and personal care product manufacturers must make certain product ingredient information publicly available on their websites and on a publicly accessible database.

Governor Cuomo said he will further direct DEC, DOH, and DOS to explore additional potential measures to empower consumers with more information.

It may just be me, but New York’s proposed legislation seems very familiar, in fact, It’s like Déjà vu all over again!

Despite the Governor’s promise of empowerment for New Yorkers seeking safe products, the proposal did not mention any type of enforcement mechanism to penalize manufacturers and distributors that fail to comply with the proposed regulations—a very convenient omission to say the least.

Although it’s unlikely that New York would adopt a California style bounty hunter enforcement model, the state would have to create some sort of enforcement mechanism to keep the non-compliant in line.   It will be very interesting to see what Albany comes up with further down the line.

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