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Seventy-eight companies nationwide have received Federal Trade Commission letters warning that they may be breaking the law by selling clothing and other textile products that are labeled and advertised as “bamboo,” but actually are made of manufactured rayon fiber. The letters, which the agency’s staff sent last week, make the retailers aware of the FTC’s concerns about possible mislabeling of rayon products as “bamboo,” so the companies can take corrective steps to avoid Commission action.

The full press release can be found HERE

The companies that received the warning letter from the FTC can be found HERE

Consumer NZ, a consumer watchdog e-zine based in New Zealand reports that several companies advertize misleading claims of green performance of the textile products made from bamboo.   The February edition of its magazine reported that most clothing sold in shops labeled as being made of bamboo was actually made out of rayon, or viscose. Rayon, or viscose, is a fiber made from plants and trees, including bamboo, through a chemical process that includes sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide, both substances can result in high sulfur emissions.    

Consumer NZ states “Companies that label clothing as ‘made from bamboo’ are misleading consumers.  Most bamboo textiles are rayon and should be labeled as such.”    

Last year, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a statement saying, “Bamboo-based textiles, actually made of rayon, are not antimicrobial, made in an environmentally friendly manner, or biodegradable.”  The FTC charged four US companies with deceptively labeling and advertising textile items as made of bamboo, when they were made of rayon. It also noted “rayon does not retain any natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant”. 

The FTC recommends “if you sell clothing, linens, or other textile products, you’re responsible for making truthful disclosures about the fiber content. If your product isn’t made directly of bamboo fiber — but is a manufactured fiber for which bamboo was the plant source — it should be labeled and advertised using the proper generic name for the fiber, such as rayon, or “rayon made from bamboo.”  Any claims a company makes about their textile products have to be true and cannot be misleading. As the seller, it must have substantiation for each and every claim — express and implied — that are made. 

The New Zealand Commerce Commission spokeswoman Felicity Connell was quoted saying that there was no specific legislation governing bamboo.  “The New Zealand regulations are not as specific as fiber derived from bamboo cellulose must be labeled as ‘rayon’.” 

The original article from Consumer NZ can be found here: http://www.consumer.org.nz/reports/bamboo-clothing/introduction