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FIRA calls for increased furniture testing as fake goods put lives at risk

FIRA – the Furniture Industry Research Association – is calling on the furniture industry to increase the level of testing that it applies to products after a BBC1 episode of consumer affairs programme Fake Britain revealed that noncompliant mattresses and sofas are being sold by leading retailers.

The special episode of Fake Britain, entitled Furniture Inferno, aired on Monday 13th January and followed the Fake Britain team as it purchased a range of memory-foam mattresses from Argos, Homebase, Tesco Direct and Amazon. All were supplied by Ventura and sold under the brand name Sleep Secrets. The team took them to FIRA's testing facility in Hertfordshire, where tester Steve Cotton found that all the mattresses failed, which means that the retailers sold illegal products in the UK. "Because the foam has failed, it's not legal to be sold as any part of the furniture, whether it's a chair or a mattress," said Cotton.

All products were manufactured in China, and all carried fire resistance labels. However, the programme revealed that these labels were fake. "Anybody who knows anything about the labels should have noticed there was a problem," said presenter Matt Allwright. "It seems no one at Argos, Homebase, Tesco Direct or Amazon noticed. Why hasn't the retailer or the supplier noticed that these labels are fake? After all, the retailer has a legal responsibility to make sure that everything they sell complies with the law."

While the retailers were reported to have issued product recalls and to have removed the affected products from sale, Phil Reynolds, chief operating officer for FIRA, said the programme "highlights the need for increased level of testing to reduce risk and protect retail and product brands," and the "importance of using an accredited, independent laboratory to carry out testing."

He continued: "We recommend that manufacturers, importers and retailers implement 'due diligence' processes to check the compliance of products, such as random testing of different batches."

As well as running courses on the regulations, FIRA provides guides that can be downloaded from its website. The next course takes place on Tuesday 28th January 2014 at its HQ and is aimed at retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and importers. Places can be booked by calling 01438 777 606.

Source : KBB Daily

17 January 2014
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