After extensive review of the Guides for the Feather and Down Products Industry, the Federal Trade Commission has determined that the Guides have not promoted compliance with provisions of the FTC Act, and may, in fact, have hindered industry compliance. As a result, the Guides have been rescinded effective August 20, 1998.
The Feather and Down Guides addressed claims for the advertising, labeling and sale of products that are wholly or partly filled with feathers or down, and all bulk stock of processed feathers or down intended for use in the manufacture of such products. Guides are not legally binding, but represent administrative interpretations of laws administered by the Commission, and are intended to assist marketers in meeting legal requirements.
As part of its ongoing periodic review of its rules and guides and in keeping with the objective to eliminate obsolete or unnecessary regulatory requirements, the Commission sought public comment on the Feather and Down Guides in April 1994. The Commission published a second notice in October 1996, seeking comments on several issues including whether the guides should be expanded to include a rating system disclosing the warmth of down products, similar to the R-Value ratings for home insulation. The comments received were in favor of keeping the Guides to maintain quality and an industry standard. None of the comments addressed the Commission's concerns regarding deception and competition.
After extensive review, the Commission concluded that consumers would be better served by rescinding the Guides. According to the FTC, rescission of the Guides should provide greater incentives for industry itself to create effective standards and develop methods of product differentiation. Industry members should be vigilant in monitoring both their own and their competitor's practices, the FTC said, and it hopes that market forces will foster truthful labeling and advertising practices. The rescission of the Guides, however, does not mean that the FTC will withdraw itself from efforts to prevent deception in the labeling and advertising of these products. It simply means that the FTC will no longer maintain detailed specifications for the feather and down industry.
A notice announcing the rescission of the Feather and Down Guides was published in the Federal Register on August 20. The Commission vote to rescind the Guides was 4-0.
Copies of the full text of the Federal Register notice rescinding the guides are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.