When the Marine Stewardship Council recently requested comments on its "Certified Sustainable Seafood" certification and label, the FTC took the opportunity to remind the Council that its certification must be grounded in "sound science" and be objectively applied to allow consumers to identify seafood with environmental benefits. Without commenting on the Council's certification standards, the FTC referred the Council to the recently revised Green Guides. The FTC recommended in its comments that the sustainable seafood label convey "truthful, non-deceptive information to consumers." Notably, the FTC reminded the Council that third-party certifiers should consider a reasonable consumer's interpretation of the seal when developing a certification process. If consumer interpretation is inconsistent with the certifier's practice, the certifier should revise the seal or certification process to bring it in line with consumer perceptions. In the opinion, the FTC declined to specifically comment on the meaning or interpretation of "sustainable," consistent with their lack of specific guidance on this term in the Green Guides.
TIP: As with all advertising claims, advertisers are responsible for both the express and implied claims in their advertising. Environmental benefit claims must be properly substantiated and advertisers must ensure such substantiation aligns with consumer interpretations of the claims. Advertisers should consult the FTC's Green Guides for guidance and clarification on developing truthful and non-misleading environmental claims.