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A law label is a legally required tag or label on new items describing the fabric and filling regulating the United States mattress, upholstery and stuffed article (e.g.: pillows, plush toys, comforters, etc.) industry. Typically these tags begin with a phrase such as This tag may not be removed under penalty of law except by the consumer. Some states require tags on used bedding as well.
The purpose of the law label is to inform the consumer of the hidden contents, or “filling materials” inside bedding & furniture products. The law label was born in the early 1900s to prevent these articles from being further manufactured with contents such as horse hair, corn husks and whatever else a manufacturer could find to use that the consumer would never see, similar to food labeling.
Laws requiring these tags were passed in the United States to inform consumers as to whether the stuffed article they were buying contained new or recycled materials. This was and still is considered important as contaminated, recycled stuffing material could contain lice, bedbugs, or human excretions.
Many mattress manufacturers such as Sealy, Simmons and Serta require these tags to be produced in the event of a warranty claim. If the consumer chooses to remove these tags, they should be stored in a safe place along with their Warranty card.
The wording of the warnings printed on some law labels has caused a common misconception in the USA that removing such a label under any circumstance is a crime, prohibiting consumers from removing labels from items they have purchased. Especially contributing to this confusion was that originally the wording on such labels did not contain the phrase "except by consumer". This draconian interpretation is commonly lampooned. Pee-wee's Big Adventure and the "Wanted: Wade" episode of Garfield and Friends feature characters who are harshly punished for removing a law label. In addition, in one episode of the popular 1970s show, Sanford and Son, Fred finds a tag with the warning label on and misjudges it to mean that if it is removed, he could go to jail. He tears it up and exclaims "power to the people!" This was before the words "...except by consumer" were added. Even the mattress company Serta created a commercial where its famous counting sheep were thrown in jail for tearing off of the law label after the mattress's owner said she didn't need them anymore. In an episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny removes a tag from a stuffed animal after mockingly muttering to himself, "Pfft, what are they going to do?" He is then immediately chased by a police helicopter to parody the "under penalty of law" portion of the label. In an episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants", SpongeBob panics after removing the tag from his mattress, and asks Squidward to hide him.
Jim Meddick's Robotman removes a mattress label in the first panel, the next panel has police officers with pistols drawn looking at a screen with a grid and a flashing dot and one policeman saying "it's in 7G" or something like that. The last panel has Robotman in a prison cell and the guard saying "if you remove that label, you'll be in real trouble".
- International Association of Bedding and Furniture Law Officials Organization of state officials who are responsible for the enforcement of consumer oriented bedding and furniture laws in their respective states.
- Minnesota Statutes 325F.31: Bedding to be labeled. Legal requirements in Minnesota for labeling new or remanufactured bedding.
- Minnesota Statutes 325F.28: Material must be renovated. A legal definition of requirements in Minnesota for sterilizing and renovating old mattresses.