Elgin, Illinois - Moonlight Slumber, LLC, an Elgin, Illinois-based firm that advertised its baby mattresses as organic and free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misrepresented or could not support its claims to consumers. The case is the FTC’s first challenging “organic” product claims.
The FTC’s administrative complaint charges that in marketing and advertising its baby mattresses, Moonlight Slumber misrepresented a range of claims on its website and in its packaging. For example, the complaint alleges the company represented that its Starlight Simplicity and Little Star mattresses are “organic.” According to the FTC, however, very little of the mattresses were made from organic material.
In addition, the company represented that its Little Star mattress contains a “Natural Latex Core” and that many of its mattresses are made from plant-based foam. The FTC alleges that, in actuality, the core of the Little Star mattress was made from synthetic material and the foam in the mattresses contained little or no plant-based material.
The complaint also alleges that the company falsely claimed that testing proves “that there are no VOCs (volatile organic compounds, commonly known as ‘Off Gassing’) from Moonlight Slumber products.”
Finally, the complaint states that the company represented that its mattresses were certified by the “Green Safety Shield” in its ads, but failed to disclose that the Green Safety Shield was Moonlight Slumber’s own designation, and that it awarded it to its own products.
The proposed order settling the FTC’s charges prohibits Moonlight Slumber from making misleading representations regarding whether any mattress, blanket, pillow, pad, foam-containing product, or sleep-related product is organic, natural, or plant-based; regarding the emissions from such products; or about the general environmental and health benefits of such products. It also requires the company to have competent and reliable evidence, including scientific evidence when appropriate, to support any claims in these areas.
Next, the proposed order prohibits Moonlight Slumber from representing that covered products are emissions-free or VOC-free, unless the representations are non‑misleading and the company has competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating them.
The order also prohibits the company from misrepresenting the results of any tests or studies, or that any claimed benefit is scientifically or clinically proven. Finally, the proposed order prohibits the company from disseminating misleading certifications, or from failing to disclose that the company has a material connection to an endorser.
The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement was 2-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly.
The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through October 30, 2017, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically by following the instructions in the “Invitation to Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section.
The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $40,654.