The DOWNPASS is a so-called zero tolerance standard. According to such standards, down and feathers of waterfowl (geese and ducks), which are used as fillers in bedding, clothing and outdoor equipment, can be inspected, tested and audited.
Specifically, this means that no product from live animals or animals kept for foie gras production is accepted as filling material. Any material from harvesting during the moulting season as well as live plucking is banned.
In addition, the rearing of the animals must be monitored. Only when these three basic criteria have been met we speak of down and feathers that have been procured according to a zero-tolerance standard.
In addition to company-specific procedures and individual control pledges, there are several such zero-tolerance standards that are globally audited and controlled.
In addition to covering animal welfare aspects, the DOWNPASS is the only standard that also checks product quality in terms of consumer protection. For both areas independent third parties (auditing organizations and testing laboratories) are authorised who are not affiliated with the companies or an industrial association.
An initial audit is valid for 2 years. During the year, ongoing inspections are carried out. At the end of the two years, the audit must be renewed.
For a company to be able to label its products with the DOWNPASS, it has to undergo constant checks. These include both announced and unannounced visits. In addition to the documents, in particular the farms and production plants are inspected on site - regardless of where they are located.
Currently there are three Downpass auditing organizations in 54 countries around the world (Europe, Asia and North America). By the end of 2017, 503 million birds had been checked.
For each individual item filled with down and feathers, which were audited after the DOWNPASS, it is possible to sew a label with an individual check number into the seam. The labeling of bedding (duvets and pillows) with such a label is mandatory. Based on the check number each product can be traced, who is the manufacturer and whether there is a valid audit. The numbers are managed by an independent notary which is the only one to assign the numbers to a specific company.
In the menu item SURVEILLANCE, you can see if the number combination on the label in your duvet or pillow belongs to a manufacturer with a valid DOWNPASS audit.
In addition to the stringent animal welfare criteria, which include, for example, the 100% control of sites in high risk areas, the DOWNPASS is the only zero tolerance standard that has firmly implemented product quality monitoring.
Furthermore, DOWNPASS operates a policy of randomly purchasing in the shops as part of the mystery shopping. This can be bedding, clothing or outdoor equipment. These products are sent to test laboratories, which check the composition of the filling material and its proper declaration on the label. Only certain top grades are approved for use as filling material.
If violations are detected, this will result in penalties for the manufacturing companies.
In order to ensure neutrality, a notary's office was tasked with monitoring these control and punitive mechanisms.
For the filling of products, only DOWNPASS audited down and feathers meeting the requirements of EN 12934, Class I or Class II (Europe) may be used.
Alternatively, the current regulations for labeling fillings, consisting of feathers and down are valid as follows:
This ensures that in addition to compliance with animal welfare requirements only the highest quality down and feathers are filled.
Compliance with the quality standards and proper declaration on the label are checked in the market. For this purpose, products are randomly bought through mystery shopping in order to have them subsequently analyzed by accredited test laboratories.
As part of a continuous improvement process, the DOWNPASS standard and its implementation rules are being constantly optimized. It takes account of legal changes as well as new findings from animal welfare and consumer protection.
Once a new release is approved, it will be posted online, so you can be sure to always have the latest version available.
In addition, we have set up another download option at the top of the page.