AP NewsBreak: FTC looking into helmet claims

The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission says his agency is
looking into possible action regarding safety claims made for new
and reconditioned football helmets used by high school and younger
players.

Chairman Jon Leibowitz made the revelation in a letter to New
Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall, who had requested an FTC
investigation into what he called “misleading safety claims and
deceptive practices.”

“We agree that these are serious concerns,” Leibowitz wrote,
“and will determine what action by this agency may be
appropriate.”

In the letter, obtained Friday by The Associated Press,
Leibowitz said that issues involving serious health concerns –
especially those for children and young adults – are a “high
priority for the commission.” He said the commission would look at
several factors “in determining whether to take enforcement or
other action.”

In his letter to the FTC this month, Udall referred to what he
called ”misleading safety claims used in online video
advertisements for helmets,” specifically citing Riddell and Schutt
Sports. He said he was ”troubled by misleading marketing claims by
Riddell, a leading helmet maker that supplies the official helmet
to the National Football League.”

He quotes Riddell’s website as saying that ”research shows a 31
percent reduction in the risk of concussion in players wearing a
Riddell Revolution football helmet when compared to traditional
helmets.”

”Yet there is actually very little scientific evidence to
support the claim,” Udall said, adding that the voluntary industry
standard for football helmets don’t specifically address concussion
prevention or reduction.

Riddell and Schutt Sports did not immediately respond to
requests for comment Friday.

At the time of Udall’s letter, Riddell called his allegations
“unfounded and unfair,” and Schutt Sports said the company never
claimed its helmets were “concussion reducing.”

Last fall, Udall asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to
investigate whether safety standards for football helmets are
adequate to protect young players from concussions.