Are there federal requirements for calling a mattress “organic”?

Answer: Yes. And verifying these requirements is the only way to make sure you’re not falling victim to fraudulent advertising claims when shopping for an organic mattress.

The government agency that controls use of the word “organic” is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under Title XXI of the 1990 Farm Bill, otherwise known as The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

This Act established national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products in order to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard and to facilitate fairness within interstate commerce.

USDA control over use of the word “organic” extends to non-edible agricultural crops such as cotton and rubber trees, and further extends to non-edible products derived from livestock, such as wool.

To call any of these raw materials “organic,” each producer must meet the requirements listed in the Act and subject its facility and products to annual audit by a USDA-approved “certifying agent.”

Furthermore, for a complex finished textile product, such as a mattress, to be called organic it must be composed of a minimum of 95% certified raw materials as listed above. Then independently, the company manufacturing the mattress must also meet the requirements as listed in the Act and to subject its facility and finished products to an independent annual textile audit to standards such as GOTS, by a USDA-approved certifying agent.

Therefore, to call a mattress “organic” or to sell it as such, the company producing the mattress must earn independent organic status and be awarded an organic certificate annually in their name. This means that a mattress cannot be called organic simply because it is made up of one, some, or even all organic raw materials. It is the “certifying agent” that substantiates that the organic claim being made is actually true. It must be a USDA-approved certifying agent, who through an audit process can give a company legitimate claim or right to use the term “organic.”

Legislation in the United States established the Federal Trade Commission Act in1914. Under this Act, the Commission is empowered to, among other things, prevent unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive consumer acts or representations affecting commerce.

If a company calls its product “organic” and its facility, methods, and specific products have not been awarded organic status by a USDA-approved certifying agent, that claim is deceptive, and constitutes an unfair method of competition in the marketplace. Unfair marketing claims fall under the purview of the FTC.

Specific to environmental claims, the FTC has published the “Green Guide.” While the guide defines a number of environmental terms and correct use and association of logos and seals, the primary emphasis of the document is substantiation. Environmental marketing claims must be substantiated.

Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibits deceptive acts and practices in or affecting commerce. A representation, omission, or practice is deceptive if it is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances and is material to consumers’ decisions. See FTC Policy Statement on Deception, 103 FTC 174 (1983). To determine if an advertisement is deceptive, marketers must identify all express and implied claims that the advertisement reasonably conveys. Marketers must ensure that all reasonable interpretations of their claims are truthful, not misleading, and supported by a reasonable basis before they make the claims. See FTC Policy Statement Regarding Advertising Substantiation, 104 FTC 839 (1984).

In the context of environmental marketing claims, a reasonable basis often requires competent and reliable scientific evidence. Such evidence consists of tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by qualified persons and are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results. Such evidence should be sufficient in quality and quantity based on standards generally accepted in the relevant scientific fields, when considered in light of the entire body of relevant and reliable scientific evidence, to substantiate that each of the marketing claims is true.

James Kohm is the Associate Director for the Enforcement Division of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. In that capacity, he oversees enforcement of all consumer protection orders and the Commission’s Green Marketing program. When Mr. Kohm spoke on January 27, 2013 at the World Market Center, he made clear that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not define what is or can be called organic. The FTC can conduct investigations relating to the organization, business, practices, and management of entities engaged in commerce and seek monetary redress and other relief for conduct injurious to consumers and other businesses from unsubstantiated environmental claims.

At OMI, we’ve worked hard to establish and maintain a comprehensive organic program. This ensures the creation and assurance of certified organic goods. Testing, quality assurance, lot tracking, purchasing organic raw materials (despite the higher cost), and spending thousands annually on auditing are just a few of the ways in which we keep our rigorous organic program in place. Third-party certification is the only thing protecting us from companies that do none of these things, but would try nevertheless to reap marketing dollars by fraudulently associating the term “organic” with their products.

It does not fall to the consumer or retailer to judge what is or is not organic. For a company to call its products “organic” it must have been granted organic status by a USDA-approved “certifying agent.” The consumer need only confirm a valid certificate with the company’s name and products listed, not a certification showing the name of a grower or producer. At OMI, we’ve covered all the bases, so you can “rest” assured you’re purchasing a TRULY organic mattress.

Dunlop vs. Talalay Latex

You may have heard OMI refer to our two lines of mattresses as “certified organic” or “100% natural.” What exactly do those terms mean, and what are the differences between the two? The difference is in the method of manufacturing the latex and the organic certification process: organic Dunlop vs. natural Talalay. Our Certified-Organic Mattresses are made using Dunlop latex only, whereas our 100%-Natural Mattresses are made using Talalay latex. The two processes both start with a botanical sap. However, the Dunlop we make our mattresses out of begins with a USDA-certified sap, whereas Talalay does not.

Extracting Rubber Sap: 


The rubber sap that is used to manufacture both Dunlop and Talalay latex is harvested from sustainable plantations in Southeast Asia. The sap is extracted by cutting the bark of the rubber tree to allow the white sap to flow out. This method allows the tree to heal rapidly, and is the eco-friendly alternative to cutting down trees for latex extraction. Each tree can yield latex for up to 30 years, and is then harvested for furniture wood. The land is then replanted.




The Dunlop manufacturing process was created in 1929, and was the first method developed for producing latex. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) certified-organic rubber sap is whipped into a froth (to aerate), and is then poured into a mold or onto a long conveyor belt. The latex is then slowly steam-baked into its solid state. Originally this process produced denser, less uniform latex, but over time the method has been refined to produce the even, consistent latex we use today. The finished core is then certified to GOLS (the Global Organic Latex Standard), allowing us to make 100% certified organic mattresses as the end result.




The Talalay family developed the Talalay manufacturing process during World War II. This method adds two additional steps to give the latex a more consistent cell structure: After the sap is whipped into a froth (to aerate) and poured into a mold, the mold is vacuum-sealed and the latex flash-frozen to keep particles from settling. The latex is then flash heated into its solid form.

The addition of these two steps (vacuum sealing and flash freezing) in the Talalay method is the main difference between Dunlop and Talalay, besides the organic certification and purity assurance. Many people still associate Dunlop latex with being a denser, less consistent product, but this is simply no longer true. Both methods have been refined over time to produce the uniform and supportive latex we use at OMI.

The OTA Annual Organic Report

The OTA is the leading voice of the organic trade industry in North America. They conduct surveys and reports on what is currently happening in the organic market. The OTA released their 2013 Organic Annual Report this year, and it is full of exciting information regarding the continued growth of, and interest in, the organic market. Here it is:

OTA Annual Report 2013


Check out our previous blogs about the organic market and the OTA, The Organic Market is Growing and OTA Reports 8 in 10 Parents Purchase Organic Products. For more news, articles and insight into the organics industry, visit the Organic Trade Association website HERE.

Is Food Healthy Just Because It’s Labeled Organic?

When most people see a food item that is labeled organic, they automatically assume that it is healthy for you. The truth is, food is labeled organic based on how it is grown, raised, or prepared, not based on the nutritional value. Unhealthy foods can be made with organic ingredients and be labeled as such, but will still be lacking in wholesome, nutritious ingredients. Check out this fun video that explains the difference between organic and healthy and will let you know what to look for next time you are shopping for a healthy meal:

Plan A Picnic



Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect occasion to pack a picnic and head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather. First you have to decide what dishes to bring. Typical picnic foods can include hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and cookies, which are not the healthiest choices (though they may be delicious). If you’re looking for better options, here are 10 healthy finger-food ideas for your next picnic outing!


1. Edamame


2. Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)


3. Grilled Vegetables (zucchini, squash, mushrooms, etc.)


4. Pita Chips with Hummus


5. Homemade Trail Mix (dried fruits and nuts)


6. Turkey Sandwiches with low-fat ingredients (whole-grain bread, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and low-fat cheese)


7. Shrimp and Lemon Skewers


8. Yogurt


9. Fruit Salad


10. Angel Food Cake (low in calories) with fresh fruit and fat-free whipped cream

Now that your basket is packed with delicious foods, it’s time to head out and enjoy the beauty of nature!