Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has approved a consent order settling its first case against a company making “organic” claims.
Moonlight Slumber, LLC (the Company) advertised that its baby mattresses were “organic,” that its mattress contained a “Natural Latex Core,” that many of its mattresses were made from plant-based foam, that testing showed that its products emitted no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and that the Company’s mattresses were awarded an environmental certification. The FTC's complaint alleged that these claims were untrue. Most of the mattress content was non-organic, the latex was synthetic, the Company had no supporting tests regarding the emissions of the mattresses and the Green Shield Certification touted in the Company's advertising was the Company's own logo that it had awarded to itself.
The FTC's Order requires the Company to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support any claims it makes relating to the areas listed below and the claims must not be misleading as to:
- whether such product is in whole or part organic;
- whether such product is in whole or part natural;
- whether such product is in whole or part plant-based;
- the content of such product;
- the emissions from such product;
- the environmental or health benefits of such product;
- whether the emissions from a covered product are zero;
- whether the VOC emissions from a covered product are zero;
- whether the emissions of any individual substance or substances from a covered product are zero; or
- whether the emissions, VOC emissions, or emissions of any individual substance or substances from a covered product are zero in a particular circumstance, including at or after a particular point in time.
To substantiate that any representation by the Company is true with respect to the claims listed above, the Company's evidence must be based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area and must be sufficient in quality and quantity based on standards generally accepted in the relevant fields when considered in light of the entire body of relevant and reliable evidence.
In addition, the order bars Company from using misleading certifications or from failing to disclose that the Company has a material connection to a certifier or an endorser.
If you have any questions about how this latest action by the FTC may impact your company's use of certifications, endorsers or environmental advertising claims, please contact your Baker McKenzie attorney or any of the contacts listed.