SSA Meets with USDA National Organic Program to Improve Communications between Government, Industry and Consumers

The Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) met with representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) late last month to establish next steps for improving communications between government, industry and consumers related to the term “organic” and how it is used to market textiles and bedding products. Joining SSA were representatives from the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and bedding manufacturer Naturepedic.

SSA initiated this meeting as a follow up to previous conversations with NOP staff that resulted in updates to the NOP’s organic training program that now addresses textiles. “When SSA started its exploration several years ago into environmental marketing claims in the bedding sector, we realized we had a long way to go particularly with claims related to natural and organic products,” stated Dale Read, SSA president. “There’s been a lot of progress in two years that has helped us explain to our manufacturer and retailer members how to properly market their products and stay in compliance with federal guidelines. A big part of our success in bringing clarity to consumers comes from the dialogues we’ve had with federal agencies like NOP.”

NOP responds to complaints of abuses of the use of organic on a myriad of products, from farm market produce to bedding and textiles to even new claims from the dry cleaning industry, according to Vicki Worden, president of Worden Associates, Inc. and consultant to the SSA. “We can potentially save bedding manufacturers from unnecessary scrutiny from both the USDA and the Federal Trade Commission,” said Worden. “With proper labeling in the bedding and textile sectors, we expect to positively impact consumer confidence in those products as well.”

Specific requests made to NOP by SSA, OTA, and GOTS include more cooperation between NOP and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) following release of an update on October 1, 2012, to its “Green Guides,” a widely distributed document that provides administrative guidance to manufacturers on substantiating environmental marketing claims. Other requests included further updates to the NOP’s training program, a joint education webinar program aimed at the bedding and textile industry, and updates to a May 2011 NOP Policy Memo to further clarify textile labeling issues.

Participants in the meeting included Miles McEvoy, Jennifer Tucker, and Sasha Strohm of the National Organic Program (NOP); Laura Batcha of the Organic Trade Assn. (OTA); Sandra Marquardt and Marcus Bruegel of the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard organization (GOTS); and Dale Read, SSA president, Vicki Worden, consultant to SSA, and Barry Cik, co-founder and technical director of bedding manufacturer Naturepedic, who additionally serves on the SSA board of directors.

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About SSA: Founded in 1995, the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) is a national, not-for-profit organization created to facilitate the growth and positive awareness of the specialty sleep category. Its members develop or sell specialty sleep products including natural/bio-based and organic bedding, latex, memory foam, air, gel, water, adjustable, new spring technologies and related products. SSA membership includes more than 100 manufacturers and retailers ranging from small, family owned businesses to large corporations. SSA has showrooms in Las Vegas and High Point.