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American Down and Feather Council Takes Issue With "Synthetic Down" Designation

Furniture World News


ADFC, the American Down and Feather Council recently voiced their objection to the terminology used by some bedding and upholstered furniture manufacturers. ADFC stated that, "Manufacturers, have an obligation to retailers and consumers to be forthcoming about the differences between down and down alternatives. Descriptive terms such as “loft” and “fill power,” which were developed to illustrate the natural properties of down, are misleading when used in reference to materials other than down." The term “loft” refers to the fluffiness of down products, a result of individual fibers connecting to one another at a central point, giving down its three dimensional quality. Loft is what makes it easy to restore the original shape to a down product with a few quick shakes. “Fill power,” a technical term that refers to the insulating ability of down products, is the measurement of the amount of volume – or space – taken up by one ounce of down, it is measured under laboratory conditions. Fill power is expressed as a number, the higher the number is, the more insulating power the product has. Stephen Palmer, American Down and Feather Council (ADFC) chairman, comments, “Clear and accurate labeling of bedding benefits everyone. Retailers understand what they are selling and consumers know what to look for when purchasing down and feather bedding products, arbitrary and inaccurate labeling leads to confusion.” Another term they say, leads to confusion in the marketplace is “synthetic down.” A label proclaiming that product contents are made of “synthetic down” gives the impression that the product is a facsimile of down or has the same qualities as down. Because of the characteristics of their natural fill, down products are light yet warm, trapping the warmth of the body while wicking away moisture. Man-made materials cannot replicate the characteristics of down, as the term synthetic down suggests. Use of the term is an attempt to trade on the reputation of natural down products. According to Joan Jordan, president of the International Association of Bedding and Furniture Labeling Officials (IABFLO) and the supervisor of Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection’s Bedding and Product Safety Unit, “The term ‘synthetic down’ is not, and will not be, approved for use by IABFLO. It does not describe what the material actually is, and so the consumer cannot make an informed decision.” In addition, says Ms. Jordan, “Connecticut’s Bedding and Upholstered Furniture Act, as well as the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, also prohibit the use of the term ‘synthetic down’, as it is misleading, and any manufacturer which uses this term will be subject to remedies available under the law.” About ADFC: The American Down and Feather Council, a section of the Home Fashion Products Association, is a voluntary association of manufacturers of natural-fill bedding products, as well as dealers, buyers, sellers and processors of feathers and down for use in home fashion products. The goal of the ADFC is to further the common interests of the down and feather products industry, and to maintain and improve product quality. The objective of the ADFC Labeling Compliance Program is to ensure all natural-fill bedding products sold in the U.S. are labeled correctly, and that the quality of the products meets or exceeds the claims made on the label or packaging.