TRENTON – Amid continued concern about children’s jewelry tainted with toxic materials, legislation targeting unsafe jewelry is advancing toward law.
The bill comes after 55,000 “Princess and the Frog” necklaces were recalled because they may contain high levels of the toxic heavy metal cadmium.
When ingested by children, cadmium can have severe health effects. It’s a known carcinogen and has been shown to have a negative effect on brain development.
Under the bill (A-2076), no one may sell, distribute, import or manufacture jewelry in New Jersey that contains materials classified as unsafe. The bill also includes stricter restrictions on materials used in children’s jewelry and body piercing jewelry.
“Buying a necklace or a charm bracelet shouldn’t bring about fears of lead and mercury poisoning, yet the health and safety of New Jerseyans are at risk,” said Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex). “It’s time these harmful products are taken down from store shelves for good.”
Under the bill, the Director of Consumer Affairs or manufacturers, distributors or importers of jewelry who discover it contains any material or substance in violation of the bill’s restrictions must issue an immediate recall for that product.
Within 48 hours of receiving notice of the recall, retailers would be required to remove the jewelry from displays and make it unavailable for purchase.
Within 14 business days, retailers would be required to return all the jewelry to the manufacturer, distributor or importer from which it was obtained, at the cost of the manufacturer, distributor or importer.
The manufacturer, distributor or importer would then have 60 business days to destroy the jewelry and to dispose of the remnants to remove them from access by the general public.
The bill specifies the following penalties:
• Knowingly selling, offering for sale, distributing, importing or manufacturing jewelry that contains any material in violation of the bill’s restrictions is an unlawful practice;
• Failing to remove the recalled jewelry from displays, make it unavailable for purchase or return it to the manufacturer, distributor or importer within the required timeframe is an unlawful practice; and
• A manufacturer, distributor, or importer failing to issue an immediate recall or destroy and dispose of jewelry returned to them as a result of a recall is a crime of the fourth degree for a first offense.
An unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for subsequent offenses. A violation can also result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured.
The bill was recently approved 75-0 by the Assembly. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.