FTC Warns 78 Retailers On Bamboo Mislabeling

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent letters to 78 U.S. companies, warning they may be
breaking the law by labeling and advertising rayon fiber clothing and other textile products as
“bamboo.” In the letters, the FTC warns that in order to avoid action by the commission, the
companies should review labeling and advertising for textile products they are selling and remove
or correct any misleading bamboo.

The FTC points out that rayon, a man-made fiber created from cellulose found in plants and
trees, is processed using harsh chemicals that emit hazardous air pollution. The letter states,
“Rayon, even if manufactured using cellulose from bamboo, must be described using an appropriate
term recognized under the FTC’s Textile Rules. … Failing to properly label and advertise textiles
misleads consumers and runs afoul of both the Textile Rules and the FTC Act.”

“We need to make sure companies use proper labeling and advertising in their efforts to
appeal to environmentally conscious consumers,” said David C. Vladeck, director of the agency’s
Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Rayon is rayon, even if bamboo has been used somewhere along the
line in the manufacturing process.”

In addition to the warning letters, the FTC sent each company a summary of decisions finding
that failure to use proper fiber names in textile labeling and advertising is deceptive and
violates the FTC Act, under which it can seek civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation
against any company that receives the warning information but does not correct advertising and
labeling. The complete list of companies receiving warning letters, as well as other bamboo-related
FTC materials, can be found on the FTC’s website at

February 9, 2010