Australian manufacturer Tasman Sheepskin Tannery has given a
court-enforceable undertaking that it will cease claiming its
medical sheepskins meet a voluntary standard for these products
where they fail to comply with the requirements of the
Tasman Sheepskin Tannery manufactures and distributes
medical sheepskins and other sheepskin products to customers
such as hospitals, physiotherapists, home health care bodies,
retailers and consumers directly.
Medical sheepskins are used as a bed or chair underlay to
distribute and relieve pressure to prevent the onset of ulcers
or bed sores in immobile people. Medical sheepskins have also
been developed under specialised processes designed to prevent
shrinkage during high temperature laundering. To ensure a
medical sheepskin works as intended, a voluntary standard was
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission became
concerned when a hospital physiotherapist reported a consumer
finding up to 80 grass seeds imbedded in the leather and wool
of a medical sheepskin. The ACCC was of the view the presence
of grass seeds was likely to breach the standard with which
Tasman Sheepskin Tannery had claimed compliance.
The medical sheepskins also did not have the labelling and
washing instructions attached required by the standard.
Sheepskins subsequently purchased by the ACCC contained up to
40 grass seeds.
Whilst the standard is not a mandatory standard, meaning
compliance with it is voluntary, Tasman Sheepskin Tannery
risked breaching sections 52 and 53(a) of the Trade
Practices Act 1974 by misrepresenting its medical
sheepskins complied with this standard where in fact they did
The ACCC has accepted court-enforceable undertakings from
Tasman Sheepskin Tannery that it will:
cease representing that its medical sheepskins comply
with the standard where they do not
replace or refund any medical sheepskins manufactured by
Tasman Sheepskin Tannery since 1 November 2005 that contain
grass seeds or do not display the required labelling,
implement a trade practices compliance program.
"It is crucial that where a business represents it
complies with a standard, it has measures like quality control
and trade practices compliance programs in place to ensure that
claims of compliance will not mislead consumers," ACCC
Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel said.
"Consumers in this case are vulnerable and may be
poorly placed to identify non-compliance with the
"The message to manufacturers is simple if you are not
sure you can claim compliance with a standard
A copy of the undertakings will be available from the
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