Are there federal requirements for calling a mattress “organic”?

Answer: Yes. And verifying these requirements is the only way to make sure you’re not falling victim to fraudulent advertising claims when shopping for an organic mattress.

The government agency that controls use of the word “organic” is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under Title XXI of the 1990 Farm Bill, otherwise known as The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

This Act established national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products in order to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard and to facilitate fairness within interstate commerce.

USDA control over use of the word “organic” extends to non-edible agricultural crops such as cotton and rubber trees, and further extends to non-edible products derived from livestock, such as wool.

To call any of these raw materials “organic,” each producer must meet the requirements listed in the Act and subject its facility and products to annual audit by a USDA-approved “certifying agent.”

Furthermore, for a complex finished textile product, such as a mattress, to be called organic it must be composed of a minimum of 95% certified raw materials as listed above. Then independently, the company manufacturing the mattress must also meet the requirements as listed in the Act and to subject its facility and finished products to an independent annual textile audit to standards such as GOTS, by a USDA-approved certifying agent.

Therefore, to call a mattress “organic” or to sell it as such, the company producing the mattress must earn independent organic status and be awarded an organic certificate annually in their name. This means that a mattress cannot be called organic simply because it is made up of one, some, or even all organic raw materials. It is the “certifying agent” that substantiates that the organic claim being made is actually true. It must be a USDA-approved certifying agent, who through an audit process can give a company legitimate claim or right to use the term “organic.”

Legislation in the United States established the Federal Trade Commission Act in1914. Under this Act, the Commission is empowered to, among other things, prevent unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive consumer acts or representations affecting commerce.

If a company calls its product “organic” and its facility, methods, and specific products have not been awarded organic status by a USDA-approved certifying agent, that claim is deceptive, and constitutes an unfair method of competition in the marketplace. Unfair marketing claims fall under the purview of the FTC.

Specific to environmental claims, the FTC has published the “Green Guide.” While the guide defines a number of environmental terms and correct use and association of logos and seals, the primary emphasis of the document is substantiation. Environmental marketing claims must be substantiated.

Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibits deceptive acts and practices in or affecting commerce. A representation, omission, or practice is deceptive if it is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances and is material to consumers’ decisions. See FTC Policy Statement on Deception, 103 FTC 174 (1983). To determine if an advertisement is deceptive, marketers must identify all express and implied claims that the advertisement reasonably conveys. Marketers must ensure that all reasonable interpretations of their claims are truthful, not misleading, and supported by a reasonable basis before they make the claims. See FTC Policy Statement Regarding Advertising Substantiation, 104 FTC 839 (1984).

In the context of environmental marketing claims, a reasonable basis often requires competent and reliable scientific evidence. Such evidence consists of tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by qualified persons and are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results. Such evidence should be sufficient in quality and quantity based on standards generally accepted in the relevant scientific fields, when considered in light of the entire body of relevant and reliable scientific evidence, to substantiate that each of the marketing claims is true.

James Kohm is the Associate Director for the Enforcement Division of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. In that capacity, he oversees enforcement of all consumer protection orders and the Commission’s Green Marketing program. When Mr. Kohm spoke on January 27, 2013 at the World Market Center, he made clear that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not define what is or can be called organic. The FTC can conduct investigations relating to the organization, business, practices, and management of entities engaged in commerce and seek monetary redress and other relief for conduct injurious to consumers and other businesses from unsubstantiated environmental claims. Review the following links that report FTC investigation of unsubstantiated claims:

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/07/three-companies-barred-advertising-mattresses-free-volatile

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2011/01/ftc-settlement-ends-tested-green-certifications-were-neither

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2009/08/ftc-charges-companies-bamboo-zling-consumers-false-product-claims

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/01/ftc-approves-final-orders-settling-charges-three-companies-made

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/06/ftc-brings-second-case-year-against-plastic-lumber-products?utm_source=govdelivery

 

At Lifekind, we’ve worked hard to establish and maintain a comprehensive organic program. This ensures the creation and assurance of certified organic goods. Testing, quality assurance, lot tracking, purchasing organic raw materials (despite the higher cost), and spending thousands annually on auditing are just a few of the ways in which we keep our rigorous organic program in place. Third-party certification is the only thing protecting us from companies that do none of these things, but would try nevertheless to reap marketing dollars by fraudulently associating the term “organic” with their products.

It does not fall to the consumer or retailer to judge what is or is not organic. For a company to call its products “organic” it must have been granted organic status by a USDA-approved “certifying agent.” The consumer need only confirm a valid certificate with the company’s name and products listed, not a certification showing he name of a grower or producer. At Lifekind, we’ve covered all the bases, so you can “rest” assured you’re purchasing a TRULY organic mattress.

8 Misleading Claims about Organic Mattresses – Is Your Mattress Certified Organic?

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Misleading Claim #1: Merchants using organic logos, or statements that use the word “organic,” to describe their mattresses as “organic” or partially “organic.”
Incorrect Because: Under USDA National Organic Program regulations (USDA/NOP), there are no such categories. There is only “certified organic.”

Misleading Claim #2: Merchants claiming that since they use the same organic materials that are used in certified organic mattresses, why pay more?
Incorrect Because: Without submitting to an independent third-party audit, a consumer has no assurance that whatever organic component is claimed to be used was actually used in making a mattress.

Misleading Claim #3: Merchants claiming that since the materials they use are the same as those used by true organic manufacturers, what’s the difference?
Incorrect Because: Fast food and fine dining can include the same ingredients, but the outcomes are quite different—it’s about quality and purity, not just materials.

Misleading Claim #4: Merchants using someone else’s certification to infer it is their own, but somehow doesn’t have their name on it for a string of reasons.
Incorrect Because: USDA certification certificates are not transferable.

Misleading Claim #5: Merchants claiming their mattresses are “chemical free.”
Incorrect Because: This is scientifically impossible.

Misleading Claim #6: Merchants claiming their mattresses are “nontoxic.”
Incorrect Because: This is also scientifically impossible.

Misleading Claim #7: Merchants claiming their mattresses are “free of volatile organic compounds (VOCS)” or have no harmful outgassing.
Incorrect Because: This is also scientifically impossible, and without an independentUL/GREENGUARD™ or similar test for finished-product emissions, no one can possibly know exact outgassing levels.

Misleading Claim #8: Merchants claiming that their components have been tested for the presence of a long list of chemicals and that none were found.
Incorrect Because: What this means is that the mattress components may have been tested at one point, early in the process, by what is known as a “presence” test. True, these chemicals may not have been present at that time, but it gives absolutely no information as to what is actually emitting from the finished mattress. That is a consumer assurance UL/GREENGUARD™ testing provides.

Find out if a mattress is in fact listed on the certifier’s website.

Note: The name of the manufacturer or retailer must be entered precisely, such as “Organic Mattresses, Inc.”

http://www.global-standard.org/public-database/search.html

http://certification.controlunion.com/certified_companies_and_products.aspx

 

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How Long Will It Last?

Recently a customer called to ask how long the sheets in our Organic Cotton Sateen Bedding Collection should be expected to last. It got me thinking about the lifespan of different products we sell, as well as how they show their age as the years go by.

towel

The organic cotton and wool we use isn’t mixed with polyester or other petrochemicals to artificially strengthen the fibers, nor are our towel collections treated with a coating of beef tallow and/or chemicals to make them feel softer and more appealing on store shelves. This results in a purer product, as well as one that will actually become softer than artifically-treated products over time. It also means that their lifespans aren’t artificially prolonged based on chemical content, however. For that reason, the possibility exists that they may experience a shorter life than artificially enhanced items – although I have to say that I’ve never experienced it personally in the 10 years I’ve been using our products. Our customers appreciate this, for the most part, knowing it’s part of the sacrifice we sometimes make in order to use natural products and to live lives as free as possible from exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Based on that, here’s an estimate of the expected average life of a few of our more popular products when cared for as recommended:

 

clockFlannel Pad:  Five years

Wool Moisture-Protector Pad:  Five years

Sheets and duvet covers:  Five years

Pillows:
Wool or cotton:  Five years
Natural rubber:  Ten years
Buckwheat:  Five years

Comforters:  Five years

Pillow tops:
Wool:  Five years
Natural rubber:  Ten years plus

Towels and bath mats:  Five years

Keep in mind that these are not warranty timelines, but basic averages that can be directly affected by the amount of usage and quality of care. Items that are washable can also be affected by water quality and temperature, detergents, and the use of fabric softeners. Pillows and fitted sheets tend to wear out most quickly, since they bear most of a sleeper’s concentrated weight. Sheets and pillowcases may develop thin spots that are more susceptible to tearing, and cotton and wool pillows will compact substantially as they’re used — wool pillows by about one-third and cotton pillows by about one-half. It doesn’t indicate that the product is defective, but rather that it’s been working hard and slowing down a bit as time goes by, as do people.

If you  have a question about how a Lifekind product is holding up over time, feel free to give us a call here on the sales team at 800-284-4983, or click on the “Chat with a live product specialist now!” link on our home page. We’re here to help.

THE 2013 WHITE SALE IS HERE!

Our biggest, most anticipated sale of the year is finally here.  Our 16th Annual White Sale will not disappoint, with up to 60% OFF select items plus free shipping on orders over $99.

catalog

Don’t wait till the end of January to take advantage of these great deals!

This year’s White Sale catalog introduces several new products at huge discounts.

LifekindJacquard

Our new Organic Cotton Jacquard Bedding Collection has a delicate diamond white-on-white pattern.  The diamonds seem to shimmer in the light, adding a touch of beauty to the silky-soft material. Made from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, they’re free of dyes or synthetic components. The collection contains sheets, pillowcases, and duvets.  Each piece is sold individually for your convenience. The pillowcases and flat sheet have a 7″ attached hem, and the fitted sheet is elasticized all the way around with 15″ pockets. These sheets are imported from India. The major reason I love them is because there’s no guess work when it comes to which direction to put the sheets on after I wash them. During the White Sale, the whole collection is 50% OFF.

We are also pleased to introduce two new items in our Baby Department.

Lifekind Dot Organic Crib Skirt

The first is our new Organic Swiss Dot Crib Skirt.  This dappled organic cotton percale bed skirt finishes the crib on a sweet and simple note. Fits standard cribs, with a 16″ ruffle. (Imported from India). I love this cute crib skirt because I can hide all my baby supplies under the crib and no one is the wiser!  During the White Sale, the Organic Swiss Dot Crib Skirt is 50% OFF.

 

 

Lifekind Organic Cotton Fleece BlanketThe second new baby item is the Organic Cotton Fleece Baby Blanket. Super-soft fleece makes this the perfect snuggling blanket, lightweight enough for swaddling. This snowy-white crib-size blanket is sure to become baby’s (and your) favorite, made in the USA from GOTS-certified 100% organic cotton. During the White Sale, the Organic Cotton Fleece Baby Blanket is 50% OFF.  (I recommend stocking up on these blankets – in my experience, you can never have enough swaddling blankets). Swaddling can help your baby stay calm and sleep better.  Here’s a great refresher, or if you’re learning for the first time, check out Babycenter.com on how to swaddle a baby.

I could write a whole blog on how helpful swaddling is. Warning: Don’t watch the swaddling video too many times, or it will make your biological clock tick:)

Along with these great new items, we also have awesome staple items on sale.  Here is a list of just a few of our customer favorites:

 

Don’t forget:  Mattresses are on sale too!  Now is the perfect time to order the organic mattress you’ve always dreamed of. During our White Sale, you can purchase a top-of-the-line organic mattress for 20% off plus free shipping.  So what are you waiting for? Order online or call 1-800-284-4983 today!