‘Responsible Down’ Label ‘Humane-Washes’ Cruelty, Says PETA in FTC Complaint

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2023

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Washington – PETA has submitted a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that the “Responsible Down Standard” (RDS) and “Responsible Animal Fiber” (RAF) labels created by third-party certifier Textile Exchange (TE) amount to false advertising. The complaint follows multiple PETA exposés of the down industry, which revealed that filth, suffering, and violent deaths are industry norms.

Increased consumer concern has led retailers such as Gap Inc. and H&M to boast about their RDS and RAF certifications—which TE created following multiple PETA’s exposés—encouraging customers to buy their products under the false assumption that the animals used to produce them were treated humanely. PETA’s complaint asserts that TE and the companies that use its labels make marketing claims that deceive customers:

  • TE claims that its farms meet “strict animal welfare standards” and that “animals are well cared for and never treated with cruelty”—yet its standards allow suppliers to use the “responsible” label on products for weeks after inspectors find violations. PETA Asia’s recent investigation into Vietnamese duck farms and slaughterhouses that sold “responsible” down shows ducks suffering from gaping and bloody wounds, languishing in dirty sheds and lots strewn with feces, and being stabbed in the neck and having their feet cut off while still conscious.
  • TE claims that its farms are independently audited, but the audits are typically preannounced, and under its area certification scheme, some farms may never be visited by an independent auditor. PETA Asia’s investigation revealed that a farm in Russia didn’t even know that it was RDS-certified and had been failing to stun birds before hacking off their heads with a dull axe.
  • TE claims that it tracks the supply chain of its certified down “from farm to final product,” but it doesn’t require every parent farm that supplies eggs and hatchlings to be inspected. Parent farms often live-pluck birds, a painful and traumatic process—supposedly prohibited by TE’s standards—in which their feathers are torn out while they’re conscious. This process is repeated once the feathers grow back and can be inflicted up to 16 times before the bird dies or is slaughtered.

“If consumers knew that ducks were stabbed and had their feet cut off while still conscious for so-called ‘responsible’ down, they’d never buy these products,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel for Animal Law Jared Goodman. “PETA is urging the FTC to hold Textile Exchange accountable for its deceptive marketing scheme and prevent it from certifying materials with misleading labels.”

PETA’s complaint asks the FTC to require TE to remove all misleading statements from its marketing and issue corrective explanations that reveal how the animals on its certified farms are actually treated.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind