The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced that it filed complaints and proposed civil penalty orders totaling $1.3 million against four national retailers in connection with charges that the companies mislabeled textiles as made of “bamboo” in violation of the FTC’s Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and the FTC’s textile rules.
According to the FTC, the products, which included napkins, dresses, socks, and other clothing, were labeled as “bamboo,” but actually made of rayon. The FTC alleges that these companies continued to mislabel their products despite receiving warning letters from the FTC in 2010.
The FTC previously issued guidance on the subject of mislabeling and advertising products as “bamboo” in which it noted that most “bamboo” textile products are actually rayon. According to the guidance, although bamboo may be used to create rayon via a chemical process, there is no bamboo left in the finished rayon. Thus, unless a product is made directly with bamboo fiber, it cannot be called bamboo. Further, although advertisers may claim that the end product has antimicrobial properties from the bamboo plant, the FTC has noted that there is no evidence to support these claims. For a product to be labeled “bamboo” or advertised as having antimicrobial properties, competent and reliable evidence is needed to substantiate such claims.
In addition to the recently filed complaints and penalty orders, since 2009 there have been a number of court cases and settlements aimed at addressing products that were mislabeled or advertised as “bamboo” including one settlement for $1.26 million. In order to avoid violating the FTC’s Textile Act and Rules, retailers, manufacturers, and any other party dealing with “bamboo” products should ensure that products are properly labeled and that advertising is not deceptive or misleading.
© 2015 Compliments of Grunfeld Desiderio Lebowitz Silverman & Klestadt LLP – a member of the EACCNY