FTC cracks down on 3 mattress makers’ claims

Under settlements with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, three mattress manufacturers have agreed to stop making what the FTC says were unsupported claims, including that the mattresses they sell are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

According to a news release from the FTC, the commission also charged that two of the companies made unsupported claims that their mattresses are chemical-free and lack odor. The FTC also challenged one company’s claim that its mattresses are made from 100% natural materials and another company’s claim that its mattresses were certified by an organic mattress organization.

In settling the FTC’s charges, the companies have agreed not to make similar claims in the future, “unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to prove they are true,” according to the release.

Specifically, the FTC complaint alleges that Relief-Mart, based in Westlake Village, Calif., did not have and rely upon a reasonable basis to substantiate its claims that its Biogreen memory foam mattresses do not contain VOCs, have no VOC off-gassing and lack the odors commonly associated with memory foam mattresses, according to the release

In a separate complaint, the FTC alleges that Essentia Natural Memory Foam Co. Inc., based in Laval, Quebec, made unsubstantiated claims that its mattresses do not contain VOCs, are chemical-free, have no chemical off-gassing or odor, and are made from 100% natural materials. In addition, the complaint alleges that Essentia claimed that tests show that its memory foam is free of VOCs and formaldehyde when tests do not support the claims.

In the third complaint, the FTC alleges that San Diego-based Ecobaby Organics Inc. made unsubstantiated claims that its mattresses are chemical-free; formaldehyde-free; free of VOCs, such as toluene and benzene; and manufactured without toxic substances, according to the release. The complaint also alleges that the company misrepresented that its mattresses are certified by an independent third-party certifier when the certifier actually is an alter ego of the company that awarded its seal to its own products without applying objective standards. Finally, according to the release, Ecobaby Organics claimed that tests show that its mattresses are VOC-free, chemical-free and formaldehyde-free when tests do not support these claims.

The FTC vote to accept the packages containing the proposed consent orders for public comment was 4-0. After a period of public comment that ended Aug. 26, the commission was to vote whether to make the proposed consent orders final.

The FTC’s Green Guides provide guidance to companies about making environmental, or “green,” claims about their products. The FTC recently posted an article on its blog, “FTC to Mattress Companies: Don’t Pad Your Green Claims.” Learn more at www.ftc.gov.

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