Welcome to the family: This month, we added an exciting new product to Croozer’s range of accessories: the Footmuff for the Croozer Kid. Not only is the product new, but we are also celebrating another first: The Footmuff is OEKO-TEX® certified! In the interview below, our textile engineer Julia explains what that means, what criteria must be met to receive certification and what plans are being made for the future.
I’m also extremely excited about it, because I’ve been intensively involved with this product for a long time – and now we’ve finally crossed the finish line!
What is OEKO-TEX®? OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is one of the world’s best-known labels for textiles tested for harmful substances. It stands for customer confidence and high product safety.
For us, it was important to make a statement with this certification. In order to ensure optimal safety for our customers and their children, we already set our own higher standards for textiles, over and above the legally binding requirements. Nevertheless, it’s great to also receive certification from an independent, highly trusted laboratory as an assurance to our customers that they can bundle up their children in the Footmuff, knowing that the product is perfectly safe – and the label makes this fact immediately clear.
The label Textiles Vertrauen (Engl.: confidence in textiles) is one of the best-known quality certificates in Germany. It is a mark of quality for raw, semi-finished and finished textile products from all stages of production. Tested in accordance with OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 means that the product has been tested for a total of 100 harmful substances, such as optical brighteners. This applies to not only the outer fabric, but also all other parts of the product. In other words, in order to receive OEKO-TEX® certification, products must satisfy certain requirements and standards.
There are four different product classes. Our Footmuff is certified for Product Class 1, which is the strictest class – because it covers textile products that are suitable for young children and infants.
Product Class 2 includes products with skin contact, Product Class 3 includes products without skin contact, and Product Class 4 includes decoration materials. Most mattress covers, for example, fall into the second category, while covers for children’s mattresses have to satisfy the criteria of the first category.
In general, certification can only be given for a complete product. In other words, every single processed material must be within the respective limits. Therefore, each individual material must be tested at the mass production level – for us, this means that we have to order a minimum quantity (with additional fees) for our fabrics in advance solely for this purpose. And of course, during the production you have to plan additional time for this entire process.
This is followed by a lot of paperwork: a long application form, getting and checking the pre-certificates. In this context, the testing laboratory receives a minimum quantity of each individual material, along with a sample of the final product for inspection. The so-called pre-certificates that have already been issued for individual materials can be recognised – otherwise, really every single material must be individually tested. If any individual materials exceed the maximum limits, an analysis is performed to determine where the error is; then the material is produced again and re-tested.
After all tests have been successfully passed, there is more paperwork to take care of: For the required company audit, you have to fill in an application form in advance, specifying in detail what the quality assurance system looks like, both at our company and at that of the producer. In addition, information must be provided on many other things, like the storage of the materials, the manufacturing and the communication with the supplier – as certified materials must be stored separately in order to prevent so-called cross-contamination. This is followed by an on-site company visit, which is a detailed inspection of the manufacturer, at our offices in Hürth. And then finally at some point you receive the certificate!
The label is valid for one year. Then you have to have the individual materials re-tested. The company audit, however, is valid for a period of three years.
We’re currently looking into this option. There are definitely plans for earning certification for additional products, but that has to happen little by little. The certification process and the associated tests are extremely expensive and complicated. Furthermore, our products are incredibly complex and have to satisfy very high standards, particularly with respect to safety. This is why we can’t go through this process with all of our products at the same time.
Julia: No, not at all. We have strict internal guidelines that we communicate to our suppliers, and all of our products are tested for compliance with these guidelines. These also include concrete restrictions from the OEKO-TEX® catalogue, as well as others, like the legal requirements of the REACH Regulation, the European standard EN 71 (safety of toys) and other voluntary limits that are much stricter.
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