December 20, 2019
With so much being made across the world – and, increasingly, being manufactured overseas or in a different continent with different rules, regulations, and materials – it’s a huge challenge to ensure consumers are safe with the products produced. Global trade may mean that the highway of goods has never been busier, but it’s also produced a system by which the large industrial manufacturers have to ensure their products are as safe as possible for the global markets. Here’s how they do it – and what you could do to make your products safer, too.
Rules and Regulations
In some countries, consumers are more protected than in others; this is the case across all global markets, and it’s determined, in general, by the strength of the economy and the power of civil society to demand rights regarding the products that they consume. In developed countries, there are thousands of regulations designed to protect consumers, ranging from some simple ones – like being free from potentially toxic chemicals – to more advanced ones, which are determined by trade bodies, consumer rights foundations, and governments.
In general, these regulations tend to protect most of the world’s consumers. When a manufacturer is making products for trade to the whole world, they need to select materials and processes that keep them in line with the regulations – including those in the very strictest countries. As a result, the rules and regulations from these countries usually protect the world, which is helpful for consumers in countries that may otherwise be unable to uphold certain rules and regulations regarding consumer products.
The materials may be one thing, but the processes through which products go is quite another. Whether they’re manufactured along a production line or by hand, there are plenty of opportunities for products to be infected, or touched by germs, in their production. As such, it’s the responsibility of businesses that produce to sanitize their workplaces and ensure that there are regular checks on cleanliness and health. You’ll be aware of just how difficult it is to overturn negative press related to your products on the market, should they make someone ill, or contain unexpected objects.
Intriguingly, we live in an age in which we expect our products to be completely sterile, with not the slightest sign of a human hand on its surface. But this is the case – and manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that their staff are well-covered and their products are well-inspected before they eventually head into the final stage of their journey into the consumer’s hands.
Another way by which you can guarantee you’re being kept safe by the producers of the products that you cherish the most is through the packaging that they use. As producers such as C. L. Smith will attest, there are hundreds of scenarios in which the materials and products being shipped across the world – whether in their raw form or their finished form – require the kind of packaging that protects consumers from materials that may harm them. The clear example here is gas – something consumers use in their home, but must trust producers to make inside bottles that will not harm them in their homes.
Meanwhile, food that comes off the production line requires packaging to remain fresh for consumers – and the longer manufacturers and food production companies can make their food last, the more they can sell to supermarkets across the world. The freshness of food is nurtured by the chemicals that are added to the container of the food as it’s packaged, and without these chemicals, much of the fresh food that we rely on for our diets would vanish from our shelves – with a lifespan too short to head into our kitchens and to eat safely.
Keeping consumers safe isn’t just about keeping them well-fed, keeping them protected from hazardous substances, and keeping up with rules and regulations. It’s also about a wider responsibility to the whole planet – and that’s where a company’s green credentials come in. Here, many businesses around the world are taking their corporate social responsibility seriously – while others are finding it less easy to make their company greener. One thing’s for sure: it’s difficult for the larger manufacturers to claim that their business is green. But when looked at closely, there are hundreds of things that industrial companies can do to improve their carbon footprint and effects on the world around them.
Some would argue that the reduction of 10% of energy usage from a production line is an excellent step in the right direction. Other companies are looking at recyclable materials, and others still are ensuring that they produce more and more of their own energy through wind farms and solar panels. It’s in this way that consumers across the world can be kept safe by the ravage of the coming climate crisis.
If all else fails, and there is something potentially hazardous on a product or inside a container, another rule and regulation stipulates that these products must be labeled effectively to warn consumers about just how dangerous the products may be. In the case of food, this means that calories and fat levels may be displayed on the side of the packet. For alcohol or cigarettes, there are also clear warnings to show when these products are harmful.
And with other products – from fireworks to tools – you’ll find accurate labeling to show the consumer that they may be taking a risk by consuming or using the product they purchase. Without this labeling system, consumers would be more at risk of becoming injured, consuming the wrong substance, or of simply mistaking products in such a way that could put their health at risk. You’ll see these warning is red and white, usually in internationally recognized symbols, and with several warnings in different languages on the side – to show you the global nature of trade and production.
There you have it – some of the key ways in which producers and manufacturers help to protect consumers in the modern age of global trade and consumption.
Alec Neufeld’s extensive background in the construction trade fuels his passion for alternative energy and green building methods. A retired builder, he now enjoys a freelance writing career, alongside helping people as a general contractor.