New Report Drives FTC Complaint Against Crib Mattress Maker LA Baby for Deceptive Claims

Cover page of Peeling the Green Facade, by Getting Ready for Baby. Subtitle: Calling out “Greenwashing” in the Crib Mattress Market as Lessons on Brand Manipulation of Health and Environmental Claims

Cover image for new report

Chart showing types of "greenwashing" and company responses

Companies use different kinds of "greenwashing" to market their products.

chart describing 4 levels of greenwashing used in this report

Levels of greenwashing

“Peeling Back the Green Façade” shows how 10 crib mattress companies exaggerate or misrepresent “green” or health claims and how shoppers can spot them

It’s outrageous that companies use terms like ‘non-toxic,’ ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ to market products that contain synthetic materials made from cancer-causing chemicals.”— Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director, CHNYNEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, May 13, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Clean and Healthy New York (CHNY) lodged today a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission against L.A. Baby for misrepresenting the health and environmental benefits of their crib mattresses. This complaint was based on the new report, “Peeling Back the Green Façade: Calling out “Greenwashing” in the Crib Mattress Market as Lessons on Brand Manipulation of Health and Environmental Claims,” issued by the Getting Ready for Baby campaign (GRfB), which CHNY leads.

The complaint lodged with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) highlights several ways that L.A. Baby is “greenwashing,” for which Clean and Healthy New York seeks remedy:
• The company claims that none of its crib mattresses contain toxic materials, when testing for a prior report found a number of chemicals of concern.
• The company promotes its products as “naturally organic” when only some components are natural, and fewer are verifiably certified as organically sourced and manufactured.
• L.A. Baby gives the impression that its products have more certifications than they do, using graphics mixed with certification logos.

This latest report discloses the use of greenwashing practices from 10 crib mattress companies, ranging from overstating the meaning of certification to misusing terminology like “natural,” “nontoxic,” and “organic.”

“It’s outrageous that companies use terms like ‘non-toxic,’ ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ to market products that contain synthetic materials made from cancer-causing chemicals,” said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and director of the national GRfB campaign. “Greenwashing has become prevalent in the marketplace at large, and is rampant among crib mattress brands. We urge the Federal Trade Commission to take action against L.A. Baby. Other brands should ensure they accurately describe their products, so parents and families can choose products that meet their needs.”

“Peeling Back The Green Façade” is a companion to a report released by GRfB last summer. “The Mattress Still Matters” is an investigative report that delves into the materials and chemicals used to make crib mattresses. When preparing the report, it became apparent that some companies are providing vastly overstated, and in some cases, false information about their products. This prompted follow-up research to identify companies using dishonest claims, ask them to correct their claims, and seek to hold L.A. Baby accountable through FTC action.

In 2012, Congress expanded the FTC authority to empower federal regulators to go after “greenwashing,” or any manufacturer making misleading claims about consumer products, including crib mattresses. The FTC has the legal authority to punish bad actors vigorously.

From 37 companies analyzed in The Mattress Still Matters, 10 companies met CHNY’s criteria of greenwashing. CHNY documented evidence from the companies’ marketing websites and consulted with experts and certification programs to verify their concerns. They then shared concerns and evidence with the companies electronically and by mail, along with a list of requested changes.

As a result, four companies updated their marketing materials, reflecting the information about their products more accurately: Two companies (Babyletto and DaVinci Baby) corrected misleading information about their certifications but did not change all of the language flagged as greenwashing. Two companies made all requested changes and are not listed in the report. Two additional companies (Delta Children and Dream on Me) rejected, for the most part, the findings of the study. Delta Children, however, made minor adjustments while Dream on Me made no changes. Four companies (Colgate Mattress®, Graco®, L.A. Baby, Nook Sleep) did not respond at all.

"Manufacturers need to test their own products—especially those used by small children—and have a transparent process to avoid chemical hazards. Families should be able to read a product label and know what’s inside. The Ecology Center shouldn’t have to test products for us all to know what’s in them," said Melissa Cooper Sargent, Environmental Health Advocate at Ecology Center. Ecology Center tested mattresses for The Mattress Still Matters.

The report offers recommendations for parents, brands, retailers, and regulators. Among them:

1. Shoppers should:
a. Question claims like “nontoxic,” “organic,” or “natural,” and look for verified, robust independent certifications for the whole product such as MADE SAFE®, GOTS, and GOLS.
b. Be wary of marketing claims like “BPA-free,” or “PFOS-free.” Products labeled as such may contain similar chemicals, with similar health and environmental problems.
c. Watch out for misrepresentations about materials. E.g., foam with plant oils or “soy foam” is still polyurethane, with a little vegetable oil mixed in.

2. Brands should:
a. Document environmental and health claims by by securing robust independent certifications and providing direct links to verification documents.
b. Avoid meaningless terms like “natural” or “eco-friendly.”
c. Don’t use the term “non-toxic” unless every component in your product is free of all known or suspected harmful chemicals.
d. Provide full transparency about what is in your product in every component.
e. Don’t mislead shoppers by emphasizing a minor improvement to a component as significant for the whole product.

For more information about the “Peeling Back the Green Façade” report, please contact Bobbi Wilding, CHNY, bobbi@chny.org, 518-708-3875.

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About Clean & Healthy New York
Clean and Healthy New York (CHNY) is an advocacy organization building a just and sustainable society in which toxic chemicals are unthinkable.

About the Getting Ready for Baby campaign
The Getting Ready for Baby campaign is a national collaboration of over 100 organizations working to ensure every baby product is be a healthy product.

Bobbi Wilding
Clean and Healthy New York
+1 518-708-3875
bobbi@cleanhealthyny.org
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