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20.12.2013

German bed feather industry defends itself against the condemnation of the sector

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Statement on the publications of Stiftung Warentest

Statement on the publications of Stiftung Warentest

After Stiftung Warentest's general critique of the branches hit the manufacturers of electronic bicycles as well as the toy industry, the German bed feather industry lately was hit by its critique. VDFI, Verband der Deutschen Daunen und Federnindustrie, names its main niggles concerning the approach of Stiftung Warentest: self-defined test methods in the subject of quality tests; a testing procedure which cannot be repeated in a reliable way; the expertise of a questionable investigative journalist and a wishful catalogue of criteria of the editorial department of Stiftung Warentest's journal 'test' involving animal protection directions, which serve as an open goal for the campaigns of several interest groups.

During the latest product test, Stiftung Warentest assessed ten down blankets and - interestingly enough - three blankets filled with artificial fibres under the title "Dreaming under down". On the following pages, Stiftung Warentest added a so called CSR test to do more in testing the entrepreneurial social responsibility by self-defined criteria. "End of the dream" - Stiftung Warentest assumed its own point of view with these words already in the opening of the article: "Animal protectors reproach the bed feather industry for animal cruelty. The providers are not able to refute the allegations; no one gives evidence on the origin of his down." Stiftung Warentest as a matter of priority refers to an independent journalist who worked for the same animal protection organization for a vast time, on which was reported in test's December issue: "Not at least a half of the income flowed into projects and campaigns as reported by the annual report of 2012…".

The reality of the bedfeather industry looks different: "We do not only regularly work together with NGOs like Deutscher Tierschutzbund and engage in an earning process of down according the directions of animal protection, but we give evidence on the origin of the filling material harvested of slaughtered ducks and geese. We can retrace this chain from the finished product back to the place of the harvesting of feathers, which means the slaughterhouse. This is valid for all associated companies - unimportant in that case if they receive their product immediately of the slaughterhouse or if they receive it of the wholesale trade", accentuates chairman Friedrich Verse. "The label Traumpass gives evidence to traders as well as to consumers that in the filling of a product of such high quality, the harvesting of the living animal can be excluded", adds business manager Dr. Juliane Hedderich.

Stiftung Warentest demanded a tracebabilty of feathers and down back to the farm. The branch attached the condition of the assurance of confidential treatment to Stiftung Warentest's demand of a disclosure of that part of the supply chain for which the bedfeather industry is responsible. This part includes the traceability of the product back to wholesale trade and, from thereon, back to the slaughterhouse. The branch did not receive this assurance. The branch association has received statements concerning the refusal by the company.

A relevant and realistic discussion of the subject is made nearly impossible to the branch by such a procedure. "In addition, assessments and procedures are overtaken without any analysis in reports and as well in the public opinion due to Stiftung Warentest's high popularity and political support", as the chairman says in his summary.

Stiftung Warentest shall compare the use, the utility value and the environmental tolerance of the products in an objectivizational way. It shall inform the consumer on the results of these comparisons. But, where does information end and where does manipulation set in? As an independent foundation of civil laws, Stiftung Warentest pretends to be free regarding the planning of the tests and the development and the application of the test criteria. But: as soon as this leads to a kind of publications which some interest groups regard as open goals for their own campaigns, not only the involved industry, but also the public as a whole has to be attentive. It's about time to question the statements and testing procedures of Stiftung Warentest in detail.

Source:
Verband der Deutschen Daunen- und Federnindustrie e.V.
Thomas-Mann-Str. 9
55122 Mainz

10.11.2010

EDFA celebrates its 30th anniversary

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How 9 members from 8 countries have turned into 91 companies from 23 countries - EDFA celebrates its 30th anniversary:
activities of the association focus on scientific research and the development of standards and trademarks
How 9 members from 8 countries have turned into 91 companies from 23 countries - EDFA celebrates its 30th anniversary:
activities of the association focus on scientific research and the development of standards and trademarks

 
In 1980, the 9 founder members of the Association of the European Bedfeather and Bedding Industries came from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 30 years later the association represents the interests of 91 companies from 23 countries – including South Africa, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.
In addition to the “traditional“ tasks, such as political lobbying for the benefit of the industry and the preparation of consumer information, the work of the EDFA has been focusing in particular on scientific research and standardisation issues and the development of special trademarks.
 
Over the past decades, three main issues have dominated scientific research:
 
  • House dust allergy sufferers and asthmatics must no longer do without the natural sleep comfort provided by down and feathers.In cooperation with the Universities of Kiel and Frankfurt basic research and fundamental studies were conducted on the suitability of feather and down-filled bedding articles for persons suffering from house dust allergy and asthma. Thus, it could be substantiated for the first time that feather and down-filled duvets and pillows provide a poor habitat for house dust mites and that the tightly woven ticking forms an almost impenetrable barrier to this species.
     
  • Animal welfare controlled by the TÜV (Technical Supervisory Authority) and audits conducted on poultry farms
    Already in the late 80´s the association initiated scientific investigations to analyse and test the conditions in which animals were kept on poultry farms. Between 1996 and 2009, audits were carried out in particular on farms in Hungary in cooperation with the Technical Supervisory Authorities in Hanover and Budapest to ensure that feathers and down were harvested in conformity with the law.
     
  • Ecology and recycling: The usage of feathers and down as secondary raw fertilizer
    In recent years, recycling issues and acting in accordance with ecological criteria have increasingly become significant in both the awareness of the industry and in consumers´ purchasing decisions. EDFA addressed itself to this field in company with the University of Hohenheim in a research project which proved the effectiveness of feathers and down for use as secondary raw fertilizer in organic farming and horticulture. 
 
Different labelling regulations had been available in each single European country, before uniform European standards were compiled which came into effect in 1996, after 10 years of preparation and development. In 1989, the European Commission instructed the European Committee for Standardization (CEN; in French: Comité Européen de Normalisation) to prepare universal European standards. In this connection EDFA played a vital role.
 
Three task groups were established which were concerned with
  1. the standardization of finished feathers and down for use in finished articles,
  2. the standardization of feather and down-filled bedding articles and
  3. the standardization of any other articles filled with feathers and down.
 
Today, this canon of standards forms the basis for the work of all the enterprises of the down and feather industry in Europe and, thus constitutes an important foundation of consumer protection. EDFA provides information on valid standards and has been entrusted with the duty to promote the application of these standards.   Moreover, a technical committee, which has been set up specifically for this purpose, examines the applicability of the standards in practice, acknowledges testing institutes and develops modifications and amendments of existing regulations.

All in all, EDFA has spearheaded the preparation of new standards for the down and feather industry. EDFA detects and examines future-oriented fields of work which are given the status of a new industrial standard by means of codes of conducts. This task was achieved, for instance, by means of the “EDFA standard for woven fabrics“ ruling the density of ticking fabrics and the “EDFA standard for upholstered furniture” suited to determine the resilience of feathers and down used as filling material for indoor seating furniture. 

The latest milestone regarding standardization work constitutes the EDFA traceability standard which was decided upon in 2010 and covers the gathering of feathers throughout the world. As of 2011, is will be possible to document the origin of filling materials consisting of down and feathers that source from poultry meat production. This applies to all consignments from the EU member states, the countries belonging to the Council of Europe and third countries. The aim is to convince consumers and the processing industry that the filling material used for finished articles comes from species-appropriate sources.
 
Having committed itself to transparency for the benefit of the consumer and for the sake of consumer protection, the European association contributes to provide clarification in the variety of products by launching its own brands, such as for instance the duvet information system KIS (Komfort Information System) which makes it much easier for the consumers to make their purchasing decisions by considering the parameters thermal comfort and quilt comfort, or NOMITE – a label for allergy sufferers or DOWNAFRESH for the labelling of products filled with down and feathers which meet the hygiene and cleanliness requirements specified in EN 12935. Compliance with the standard is supervised at regular intervals by an independent hygiene laboratory. The latest brand in this range, which was developed in 2009, is the Downafresh greenLine trademark. This brand is suitable for bedding articles filled with down and feathers that have been processed in accordance with ecological criteria.
 
In recent years, the activities of the association have changed. In the past, the EDFA was focusing on political lobbying and public relations work. Today, the association is mainly concerned with consumer protection issues and sustainability in a globalised world. Here´s to the next 30 years - Happy Birthday EDFA!
 
Responsible for the content according to German press law:
EDFA (association of the European bedfeather and bedding industry, registered association, Thomas-Mann-Str. 9a, 55122 Mainz, represented by Dr. Juliane Hedderich, economist, managing director
10.11.2010

Documentation system on the origin of down and feathers

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Commitment to transparency:

The EDFA develops a documentation system on the origin of down and feathers -
more than 90 manufacturers of bedfeathers and bedding articles resolve on a voluntary code of conduct

Commitment to transparency:

The EDFA develops a documentation system on the origin of down and feathers -
more than 90 manufacturers of bedfeathers and bedding articles resolve on a voluntary code of conduct

On the occasion of this year´s general meeting, the members of the association of the European bedfeather and bedding industries have unanimously pledged themselves again to animal welfare and the appropriate gathering of feathers according to valid animal welfare acts and regulations by means of a code of conduct they have established for themselves and the development of a traceability system which considerably goes beyond the animal welfare acts that are currently applied in the European Union. The companies obligate themselves to comply in future with the following code of conduct to

accompany the legislation on husbandry and the gathering of feathers:

  • The members must not gather and obtain any down and feathers sourcing from liveplucking.
  • The companies include a corresponding declaration in their sales contracts and General Terms and Conditions.
  • The origin of the down and feathers are entered in detail in a documentation system, i. e. the EDFA standard on traceability.
  • Bedding articles produced and marketed in these circumstances may be labelled accordingly to the benefit of the consumer.
     

 

In cooperation with auditing experts, various tasks groups have developed the EDFA standard on traceability according to which it is possible to establish by means of a documentation system the determination of origin of the filling materials which consist of down and feathers sourcing from the production of poultry meat. This applies to all consignments deriving from the EU member states, the countries belonging to the Council of Europe and third countries. Hence, the EDFA standard on traceability covers the gathering of feathers all over the world.

In the future, suppliers must certify that their merchandise derives from slaughtered animals or the feathers and down were gathered during the moulting season in a manner permitted by law. Independent experts or organisations will henceforth carry out audits on a regular basis to control the accuracy of the information.

 

The association that has encouraged authorities and commissions since its establishment in 1980 to advocate for uniform European legislation for the husbandry of geese and ducks according to the rules and conservative gathering of down and feathers, wants to set standards by means of its traceability system. The aim is to convince consumers and the processing industry that the filling material used for finished articles comes from species-appropriate sources. The EDFA standard on traceability will become effective after January 1, 2011 and will be available for use to the public and also to non-members of the EDFA as orientation aid.

Responsible for the content according to German press law: EDFA (association of the European bedfeather and bedding industry, registered association, Thomas-Mann-Str. 9a, 55122 Mainz, represented by Dr. Juliane Hedderich, economist, managing director

 

11.02.2009

EDFA Statement about harvesting of down and feathers

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Press statement released by the Association of the European Bedfeather and Bedding Industries “EDFA“ about the subject feather harvesting

We have increasingly received inquiries about harvesting of down and feathers lately. We take this information need very seriously, since it is reasonable, comprehensible and absolutely in our interest.
Press statement released by the Association of the European Bedfeather and Bedding Industries “EDFA“ about the subject feather harvesting

We have increasingly received inquiries about harvesting of down and feathers lately. We take this information need very seriously, since it is reasonable, comprehensible and absolutely in our interest.

We learn from these inquiries that the consumers want to inform themselves more precisely of the provenance of the filling material down and feathers in order to make sure that it was harvested properly and does not originate from unacceptable live plucking that caused harm to the animals.

However, we can appease the consumer, since almost all feathers and down processed by our members have been obtained from slaughtered animals. This means that the filling material was obtained after slaughtering.

Our industry processes approximately 98% down and feathers originating as a by-product from meat production, since according to our surveys among the members, only about 2% of the world-wide annual volume is obtained from the live animal, and this only applies to geese.

To our knowledge, however, duck down and feathers always derive from slaughtered animals, i. e. they are obtained after slaughtering and not from the live animal.

Thus, the members of the EDFA process by-products (down and feathers) arising from poultry production. Down and feathers are natural products during the production of which no existing raw materials are exploited. Basically, they do not contain any pollutants, are suitable for house dust allergy sufferers, are breathable and offer without much weight optimum insulation to the one who is sleeping. They are recyclable a hundred per cent – thus they are very well qualified to correspond to the present sustainability trend. 

Down and feathers are not an anonymous mass product. The bedfeather company, where the material is processed, has previously inspected and evaluated the material. 

As manufacturers of bedding products, our members are not interested at all in filling material plucked in a manner which is not acceptable. Furthermore, it is not an advantage to them either, since material obtained in such a manner contains elements which are absolutely useless to our members. From our point of view animal abuse is even counter-productive.

For this reason, we have been advocating for more than 13 years now that violations of the Animal Protection Act are complained and prosecuted. As an association we initiated the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes which was originated in cooperation with members of parliaments and commissioners for animal welfare.

We are and will be prepared in future to cooperate with all interest groups and partners to stop and prevent the abuse of animals that cannot fight against it.

Juliane Hedderich

Director
Association of the European Bedfeather and Bedding Industries (registered association)
Thomas-Mann-Strasse 9a
55122 Mainz
Germany
01.02.2009

STATEMENT

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Although the harvesting of down & feathers from live geese has a very long and widespread tradition going back several thousands of years, this practice is now mainly found in Eastern European countries.

It has come to light, however, that some goose farms in some countries been harvesting feathers and down from geese in a manner which is not acceptable, and may have been harmful to the geese.

Although the harvesting of down & feathers from live geese has a very long and widespread tradition going back several thousands of years, this practice is now mainly found in Eastern European countries.

It has come to light, however, that some goose farms in some countries been harvesting feathers and down from geese in a manner which is not acceptable, and may have been harmful to the geese.

All EDFA members strongly condemn the harvesting plucking practices which constitute cruelty to geese, and all EDFA members unanimously decided to confirm their decision not to use feathers and down in their production of bedding articles which is found to or suspected of origination from farms, where unacceptable plucking and animal welfare practices take place.

EDFA will continue to strengthen its efforts regarding the certification of goose farms, which has now been in force for more than 13 years.

Mainz, 1st February 2009

Juliane Hedderich
business manager