Child-Resistant Packaging

By: Berlin Packaging Specialist
Date: November 11, 2019

Child-Resistant Packaging

Child-resistant packaging, also called "CR Packaging" or "Special Packaging," is defined as "packaging that is designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under 5 years of age to open or obtain a toxic or harmful amount of the substance contained therein within a reasonable time and not difficult for normal adults to use properly." The obvious goal of this type of packaging is to prevent children from ingesting the dangerous contents of the container. Required under the Poison Packaging Prevention Act for many products, such as medications, pesticides, and household chemicals, it is now also required for liquid nicotine products, or eliquid, under the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015.

Push & Turn Containers
So what makes a container "significantly difficult" for children to open? Most child-resistant containers use two distinct motions to open, such as "push and turn." This may make the container difficult to open, but alone it is not enough. The packaging must be compatible with the substance it is holding so that the function of the packaging is not compromised. And the container must also be tested with a group of children and a group of adults according to strict protocol.
Testing requirements for child-resistant packaging are strict; the cap and container must be tested together in order to ensure child-resistant performance and compliance with the Poison Prevention Act. When purchasing child-resistant packaging, be aware that while the cap may be certified on its own, it may need further testing in order to ensure the performance when paired with the container. All components must be tested together when the container is certified. If any element (such as an orifice reducer or dropper tip) is added to the container after it is certified, the original certification is null and the container will need to be retested with all components. To ensure the packaging meets these standards, ask your packaging vendor for the child resistance certification.  

Just because a container meets child resistant standards does not mean it’s 100% childproof. It means that the packaging is effective in preventing access by children 85% of the time without demonstration or 80% of the time with demonstration. And it means that up to 20% of children may have been able to actually open the packaging during testing. Additionally, the packaging must be senior friendly. A minimum panel of 50 children must be tested along with 100 adults aged 50 to 70 years old. In order to pass, 90% of adults must be able to open the package.

So what should you look for when shopping for child-resistant containers? Look for packaging that is compliant with the Poison Prevention Act Standards 1700.15 and 1700.20. To ensure the packaging meets these standards, ask for a certificate of compliance from your packaging vendor. Finally, use labeling to alert parents of the dangers of storing the product within reach of children.

For more information on the legal requirements for child-resistant packaging see the Poison Packaging Prevention Act and the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015.