The Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939 requires anyone who manufacturers or sells products containing wool to accurately label each item with the fiber content and origin. Federal Trade Commission regulations further clarify the size, text and location of labels required under the Wool Products Labeling Act. Violations of the Act can result in seizure and destruction of mislabeled goods, civil fines and/or criminal penalties.
The Wool Products Labeling Act, 15 U.S. Code Section 68, defines wool as the fiber from sheep or lambs, as well as fiber from Angora or Cashmere goats, camels, alpacas, llamas and vicunas. Only products containing the wool from these animals must comply with the terms of the Wool Products Labeling Act. However, products containing fiber from other animals must comply with either the Fur Products Labeling Act, 15 U.S. Code Section 69, or the Textile Products Identification Act, 15 U.S. Code Section 70.
The Wool Products Labeling Act applies to virtually all consumer products that contain any quantity of wool content. The Textile Products Labeling Act exempts many items from general textile labeling requirements; however, if these otherwise exempted products contain any portion of wool, they must be labeled under the Wool Products Labeling Act. Wool fiber that has been previously used must be labeled as recycled. Manufacturers may choose to label nonrecycled wool as New or Virgin Wool.
Wool products, like most other textile products, must be clearly labeled to disclose the fiber content by percentage of the fiber contained in each item. While other products do not need to disclose fibers comprising less than 5 percent of an item's content, all wool content must be disclosed, even if it's less than 5 percent. Manufacturers may label products that are comprised of 100 percent wool as either "100% Wool" or "All Wool."
Wool Other than Sheep
Items comprised all or in part of cashmere or other nonsheep wool may be labeled as "wool" or by the specific designation such as cashmere, camel, or alpaca. However, if the product is not 100 percent Cashmere or other wool fiber, the label must specify which portion is sheep's wool and which portion is the nonsheep wool fiber. Most manufacturers will choose to clearly identify the cashmere or other specific fiber rather than simply label the garment as "wool" because these fibers have significant added market value. Fiber from other animals may be included on the label if designated as "hair" such as "Angora rabbit hair."
All text on a Wool Products Labeling Act label must be clearly readable, and must be the same size and typeface. A manufacturer can not, for example, put the word "camel" in large capital letters and then list other contents, such as wool or rayon, in much smaller letters. Each type of fiber must be listed in equally sized type along with its percentage of total content.
Country of Origin
The Wool Products Labeling Act requires that items containing wool identify country of origin as well as fiber content. Only products which are completely manufactured in the United States may include the "Made in USA" label; strict regulations govern the required labeling text for items manufactured in the United States of imported materials or fiber.
Wool garments with necks, such as sweaters, dresses and jackets, must include the country of origin information on a label near the center of the garment neck, and fiber content information either at the neck or in another conspicuous location like at a side seam. All other items, such as blankets and skirts, must have the label in a conspicuous location. Other information such as care instructions can also be included on the same label. The label need not be permanently affixed but it must not come off or smear easily before it reaches the consumer, who is free to remove it if desired. Socks need not have a sewn-in label if the package in which they are sold is clearly marked with the labeling information.
- Photo Credit Cindy Hill
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