Ask for Page 2: Why GOLS and GOTS Should Offer Different Logos for Their Different Certifications

One of our retailers recently asked an important question: Are different certifications issued within the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)?

The answer is YES.GOTS and GOLSDID YOU KNOW… that the above seals, one from each of these USDA-approved third-party organic content certifiers, can have different meanings and levels of certification?

BE AWARE – Consumers need to be aware that GOLS and GOTS seals by themselves do not distinguish between FINISHED PRODUCT CERTIFICATIONS and INDIVIDUAL COMPONENT CERTIFICATION FOR A RAW MATERIAL (unless you read Page 2)!

DON’T BE FOOLED – One manufacturer of a complex textile, such as a mattress, may show either of the seals next to a finished product when only one of many components and sub-assemblies has actually been certified organic.

So what are the differences, and how can you distinguish between them?

GOLS Logo

GOLS and GOTS offer two different organic certifications:

1. A finished-product organic certification, and

2. An organic certification for individual components of a product, which is usually issued to growers or yarn producers, not to the manufacturer.

KNOW WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK – First, ask to see a copy of a certification, and make certain that it is in the manufacturer’s name and that the date is current. Usually you will find that certifications from growers merely show that a crop or component went through a third-party audit for organic certification, and that the grower’s certificates are NOT TRANSFERABLE.

Certificates must be in the name of the producer. Each retailer claiming the GOLS or GOTS seal must be audited in order to assure consumers that they have purchased the claimed organic component and that is has been used in their actual product.

MISLEADING – Placing the seal next to an image of a finished product such as a mattress gives the impression that the final or finished product has been audited and has met the stringent requirements of a total CERTIFIED ORGANIC PRODUCT.

For example, the GOLS certification offers two different label-grading designations:

  1. A manufacturer can label their finished product “Certified Organic” if the product contains 95% or more certified organic latex and other certified organic material. In addition, the manufacturer must submit to a third-party audit to prove their claims.
  1. A manufacturer can label a product “Made with X% of Organic.” They are claiming that if their product contains a minimum of 70% certified organic latex and they have submitted their product to an independent third-party audit to prove their claims, they are entitled to claim a “Made With” designation. (Without the audit, how can a consumer verify what they “claim”?)

gots-logo_rgbMany everyday consumers do not know to look for this labeling or to ask for Page 2, and they do not understand what it means. Unfortunately, GOLS and GOTS do not have different logos to distinguish between finished-product certification and other certifications.

GOLS and GOTS use the same logo for all of their certifications.

This creates confusion in the marketplace, with consumers thinking they are purchasing something that may not be what they think they are purchasing.

Here are a few examples of how this could confuse the average consumer:

1. If a MATTRESS is marketed as GOLS-certified it should hold the finished-product certification, rather than just component/process certifications in their company name.

2. For instance, a mattress that is composed of both certified organic latex and memory foam would not hold the finished-product certification, because the memory foam does not meet the standards for nontoxic materials.

3. A mattress composed of a 100% “natural” (as opposed to certified organic) latex core with a GOTS-certified organic cotton cover may hold a GOTS component certification in the manufacturer’s name for the fabric only, but it would be highly unlikely. The mattress as a whole would not be certified organic. Simply showing the fabric manufacturer’s GOTS certification on a website does not prove to consumers that they actually purchased the material or that it has been used in the product. Third-party audits mean everything!

All of these scenarios represent a time when each of these manufacturers could slap identical certification seals on their websites and the everyday consumer would have a hard time recognizing the differences between them.

Click here >> for more information on the different GOLS and GOTS certifications, along with their labeling requirements.

Organic vs. Natural: What is the Difference?

Organic Farming, Natural Products

Why should you purchase an organic mattress? How is organic any different or better than “natural”?

First, “natural” is an unregulated, relative term. Since the FTC does not regulate the use of the term “natural,” companies can (and do) use it to describe an array of products. Natural does not necessarily mean organic. It does not necessarily mean healthy. Natural does not mean nontoxic or pure. Without regulation, the definition of the term “natural” has widened substantially.

Many “natural” mattresses contain polyurethane, formaldehyde, and other toxic materials. Companies do not have to prove the purity of “natural” products like they are required to do with organic products. Third-party organic certifications are the only way to prove the organic nature of a product.

Organic Letterpress Type in Drawer

The majority of OMI’s products are certified organic. OMI’s raw materials and products hold only third-party certifications, which are non-membership-based. Non-membership-based certifications allow manufacturers to show consumers unbiased proof that their products are made with truly organic materials.

OMI’s raw materials and products hold some of the most reputable certifications available, through third-party organizations like the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex, the National Organic Program (NOP), Greenguard, and the USDA. OMI’s factory is also the only GOLS-and-GOTS-approved clean manufacturing facility in North America!

So how do these organic certifications prove the organic nature of a product? Here is a short run-down on each of them so you can see how they provide the organics industry with regulations to protect the purity of the product. Some certifications even include social and environmental regulations, as well.

Control Union Certifications: GOLS and GOTS

Control Union Certifications (CU) is an independent, internationally operating certification body that carries out inspections and audits and issues certificates. Control Union developed the GOLS and GOTS certifications, and has had years of experience certifying organic products in other industries. Their organic certification is accepted by authorities in every country and is accredited by RvA (Dutch Council of Accreditation).

GOLS_300x177

The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) is a latex certification available to mattress manufacturers. This certification ensures that all materials and manufacturing processes adhere to strict and specific international organic standards. OMI’s Dunlop latex and OrganicPedic® latex mattresses are the first to be certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard.

GOTS Logo

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is dedicated specifically to fiber and textile handling and production. The aim of the standard is to define requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way up to labeling, in order to provide credible organic assurance to the end consumer. OMI’s Eco-Wool, textiles, ticking, and thread, as well as our innerspring mattresses and bedding products, are certified organic through GOTS.

Greenguard®’s mission is to identify consumer products that can improve quality of life and public health standards within indoor environments by testing finished products for VOC offgassing. All OrganicPedic® mattresses meet the stringent criteria of the Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI). GEI’s mission is to boost public health and quality of life through programs that improve indoor air quality. OrganicPedic® mattresses were the first natural rubber mattresses to receive the coveted GEI certification. OMI’s OrganicPedic® line of mattresses holds the coveted Greenguard Gold certification, which has the most stringent requirements and was designed for products that would be used for children and schools. No other adult mattress can make this claim.

oeko-texwebsite

Oeko-Tex

In addition, both our Dunlop and Talalay rubber has been independently tested and certified to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, so it’s guaranteed to contain no harmful substances. Oeko-Tex is respected throughout the world for its stringent testing methods, guaranteeing the absence of substances that are harmful to human health.

USDA/NOP

While there is still no USDA organic standard for manufactured mattress cores (regardless of what you see on the Web), USDA/NOP certification does provide a third-party raw-material assurance for cotton and latex sap. OMI’s cotton is certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture to be in compliance with growing and handling standards set by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), and both our Talalay and Dunlop latex sap is certified.

Rubber Tree Sap

As you can see, reputable third-party organic certifications make a huge difference when offering organic products to consumers. They provide consumers peace of mind when purchasing organic options. The strict requirements of the certifications allow the consumer to trace the product back to the field and/or animal that provided the product’s raw materials. “Natural” products do not provide the same trail of proof.

Cotton pod

With OMI, you can know that we provide the purest possible products to our consumers, and we offer proof through our organic certifications. We also go a step farther by manufacturing our products in a clean organically dedicated facility.

For more information on our products and organic certifications, visit our website at www.omimattress.com.

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.

In Step With Our Carbon Footprint

blogphoto_earth_day_kids_earth_globe_hands-504x334 Bedroom Magazine recently posed the question, “What does your company do to reduce your carbon footprint?Below is the response to that question from OMI’s President, Walt Bader:

 “A carbon footprint is actually two footprints. The primary footprint is the total of all direct carbon dioxide emissions you personally produce or are responsible for. During our manufacturing process we produce zero. Even our forklift trucks are electric. Certainly, we contribute when we fly. We do not operate our own delivery services and we own no trucks. Secondarily, we source raw materials as close to our point of manufacturing as possible: wool from California, cotton from Texas, fabrics from the southern United States and all our packaging and materials are manufactured locally.

We completely recycled our scrap, and you would be hard pressed to find a garbage can on the floor. From the outset, OMI has been wholly dedicated to supporting America’s organic farmers, and thoroughly supports both the spirit and goals of reducing carbon footprints throughout the world.”

To learn more about the steps OMI takes to ensure our factory is as efficient as possible, visit our website HERE