FTC Submits Comment on "Certified Sustainable Seafood" Label

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The Federal Trade Commission, in response to a request for public comment from the Marine Stewardship Council, submitted a comment explaining factors the MSC should consider to ensure that its “Certified Sustainable Seafood” label complies with the FTC Act and the agency’s Environmental Marketing Guides, known as the “Green Guides.”

As stated in the comment, it is important to ensure that the standards for the MSC’s seal are grounded in sound science, which should be applied objectively, and that the seal convey information that is truthful and does not deceive consumers. In particular, the comment states, the MSC, and any other third-party certifier, should consider consumer perception when developing or reviewing a certification system.  “If a certifier permitted practices that reasonable consumers found inconsistent with their interpretation of the seal, the certifier should change the seal or change the certification process to comport with that understanding,” the comment states.

The filing states that the Commission’s comment is not intended in any way to imply that the MSC, or any of the licensees using its label, have, or have not, violated the FTC Act, but emphasizes that the MSC’s “Certified Sustainable Seafood” label, when used in the United States, is governed by and must comply with the Act

The Commission vote approving the comments was 4-0.  (FTC File No. P954501; the staff contact is Benjamin J. Theisman, Division of Enforcement, 202-326-2223).

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