Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Recent reading: The pillow article

Mary Whisner, Mattress Tags and Pillow Cases, 101 Law Library J. 235 (2009)

An engaging and pleasantly short piece about mattress and pillow regulation, its benefits and costs for manufactures and consumers, and why anyone would bother to make a rule about tearing the tag off a mattress.

Here’s something I didn’t know: 100% down isn’t 100% down, and the FTC doesn’t try to make manufacturers disclose the actual down content as long as they’re within the actual limit, much as cereals and other foods can contain undisclosed insect parts below a certain threshold:

Because of the way feathers and down were sorted, the industry did not really make pillows that were 100% down. Everyone accepted that some light feathers would be in the mix. So the FTC’s first rule said that pillows that were sampled and found to be 90% down would meet the standard. But the industry found that to be too restrictive a limit, so in 1949 and 1950, “there was a joint conference of the matter participated in by representatives of the Commission and the feather pillow industry,” and a new rule was promulgated allowing a tolerance of 15%. (footnotes omitted)

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