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As part of the Federal Trade Commission’s systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides, the FTC will host a public roundtable in Washington, DC, on March 28, 2014, to analyze proposed changes to its Care Labeling Rule. The roundtable was originally scheduled for October 1, 2013, but it was cancelled due to the government shutdown.

The Rule, officially called the Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods, requires manufacturers and importers to attach labels with care instructions for drycleaning washing, bleaching, drying and ironing of garments and certain piece goods.

In September 2012, the FTC sought comments on potential updates to the Rule. Based on comments the agency received, the roundtable will focus on a proposal to allow manufacturers and importers to include professional instructions for wetcleaning – an environmentally friendly alternative to drycleaning – on labels if the garment can be professionally wetcleaned and on whether the Commission should require a wetcleaning instruction for such garments.  It will also address the cost of substantiating wetcleaning instructions, the availability of wetcleaning, consumer awareness of wetcleaning, and the content of labels providing a wetcleaning instruction.

The roundtable will also discuss the differences between ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials) and both the 2005 and 2012 ISO (International Organization for Standardization) care symbols, whether labels should identify ISO symbols as such if used to comply with the Rule, the change in the meaning of the circle P symbol in the ASTM system, and consumer understanding of symbols.  In addition, the roundtable will include a discussion about the absence of ASTM and ISO symbols for solvents other than perchloroethylene and petroleum. The roundtable also will address how to clarify what constitutes a reasonable basis for care instructions.

The roundtable will be held on March 28, 2014, from 9:15 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. in the FTC’s Satellite Building Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.  Requests to participate as a panelist must be received by February 28, 2014.  Any written comments regarding the agenda topics, the issues discussed by the panelists at the roundtable, or the issues raised in comments received in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking must be received by April 11, 2014.

The Commission vote to publish a public roundtable announcement was 4-0.  It is available on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release and will be published in the Federal Register soon.  Instructions for filing comments appear in the Federal Register Notice.  All comments received will be posted online.  (FTC File No. R511915; the staff contact is Robert M. Frisby, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2098)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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