FTC complaint made against ‘Fair Trade Certified’ labeling

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fair trade Federal trade commission Fair trade usa

Personal care company Dr. Bronner has joined forces with the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to request the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launch an investigation of deceptive practices against third party certifier Fair Trade USA.

Yesterday, CosmeticsDesign.com USA wrote about how OCA had launched a campaign against Fair Trade USA’s name change from TransFair USA, and now this investigation is analyzing the advertising and labeling of certain ‘Fair Trade Certified’ personal care products.

Conflict over ‘Fair Trade Certified’ marks

OCA and Dr. Bronner are asking that the FTC prevents Fair Trade USA from allowing brands to use as little as two percent certified fair trade ingredients in products while carrying the same ‘Fair Trade Certified’ marks as products made up mostly or entirely of fair trade content.

“We have sent letters and held face to face meetings to stop TransFair ​[Fair Trade USA] from misleading consumers with deceptive fair trade marks and claims which conflate products with majority and minimal fair trade content,”​ said company president David Bronner.

Bronner believes that because Fair Trade USA receives the same licensing fee on both minimal and majority fair trade content products, it does not distinguish between them, which fails the fair trade ‘mission’.

Fair Trade USA not happy with ‘negative’ campaign

However, Stacy Geagan Wagner, director of media and PR at Fair Trade USA, told CosmeticsDesign.com USA that the company works hard to distinguish between the brand and the movement, and that this ‘negative’ campaign discredits the work the organization has done.

Wagner explained that the company could not officially respond to the FTC complaint as it is currently researching and gathering more information on it, however she did reinforce Fair Trade USA’s commitment to the fair trade movement.

“We want to be clear that 100 percent of the items that can be Fair Trade Certified on beauty products are required to be Fair Trade Certified. We firmly believe in this policy, as it extends market access and the benefits of fair trade to even more farming communities around the world,”​ she said.

The FTC has received and logged the complaint and is yet to respond to the case.

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