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PETA doubles down on RDS certifications, files watchdog complaint

By Rachel Douglass


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Canada Goose campaign imagery. Credits: Canada Goose

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has doubled down on its efforts to address the evidence of animal cruelty it is said to have found among suppliers of the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and Responsible Animal Fiber (RAF).

The organisation submitted a formal complaint to the US’ federal Competition Bureau alleging that the labels created by third-party certifier Textile Exchange (TE) were “misleading and deceiving consumers”.

It comes after PETA carried out multiple exposés into the down industry, including a recent investigation into Vietnamese duck farms that were reportedly selling “responsible” down, yet showed signs of cruelty against the animals housed there.

According to TE, farms under its overview are “independently audited”, however PETA argues that such appointments are typically preannounced, while some farms “may never be visited by an independent auditor”.

PETA went on to name retailers such as Lululemon, Aritzia and Arc’teryx that utilise RDS and RAF certifications to encourage customers to purchase products under the assumption that animals in the supply chain were treated humanely.

With the complaint, PETA is requesting for the bureau 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”.

This article has been edited Dec 1, 17:00 GMT+1, to reflect the response received from Textile Exchange.

The organisation confirmed to FashionUnited that it was aware of the complaint PETA has made to the Competition Bureau and it would await any assessment, and “support the process wherever needed”. The statement continued: “We recognise the role of animal rights organisations in driving needed change in our industry. However, while organisations such as PETA hold the position that animals being used for human purposes is unacceptable, we believe that animal-derived materials should only be used if and when measures can be taken to prevent unnecessary harm to animals.”

TE added that “while certification to a standard is not a guarantee of specific practices, third-party verification through systems [like its own] reduces the risk that activities cause unnecessary harm” and creates an official platform to investigate and analyse complaints. It was further noted that any allegations that did not align with the certification requirements were taken seriously and that it was willing to work with the appropriate bodies to investigate instances in which a standard was not being met.

In regards to the allegations already outlined by PETA, TE highlighted that the videos from the animal welfare organisation’s ongoing campaign did not provide “clear confirmation about when and where the footage” was captured. Meanwhile, it noted that while some audits, conducted by third-party certification bodies, are preannounced and are common practice, some are also “semi-announced” and therefore provide up to 72 hours notice, while others remain unannounced with no warning.

Read more:
Animal Rights
Responsible Down Standard
Textile Exchange