Safe products and services

baby eating paste
© UNICEF/LAOA2011-00062/Martha Tattersall
A malnourished girl eats Eezee Paste in Thalan village, Attapeu province, Lao PDR. Eezeepaste, a Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food is being used in southern Laos to treat severe malnutrition.

Product safety, particularly for children, has become a pioneering issue for corporate responsibility over the decades. Due, in large part, to high-profile legal cases related to product liability claims, most if not all, CSR-savvy businesses in the consumer goods, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and similar sectors are well-acquainted with concerns about the safety of products and services. Awareness and action on these issues are spreading to other sectors that provide products and services.

This concern stems from the reality that children are not simply small versions of adults. The same characteristics that make children more susceptible to environmental hazards must be considered in product development, safety and testing. Given the sensitivity of the issues involving children’s physical and mental health, companies need to take a proactive approach to ensure that products and services do not affect children negatively. It is important for the corporate sector to be current with the growing wealth of research on the potential and actual impact of products and services on children. This will enable them to put children’s best interests at the centre of key decisions.

What your company can do

  • Understand the implications of its impact and follow national laws and applicable standards.
  • Where national laws do not exist, use relevant international standards as guidance.
  • Identify and reduce potential health dangers from inappropriate or even appropriate use of products or services.
  • Identify any risks that your products and services may be used to exploit children.
  • Conduct research involving children in compliance with international and national ethical and scientific guidelines.
  • Ensure appropriate consent of the child where relevant.
  • For companies in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, take steps to protect children and young people.