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FTC Charges Clothing Firms With ‘Bamboo-zling’ The Public

401_imageFour companies selling clothing marketed as made from bamboo have been charged by the Federal Trade Commission with deceptive advertising and marketing claims.

The companies sold rayon clothing and textiles that the FTC said falsely claimed:

  • to use an environmentally friendly process
  • to retain the natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant
  • to be biodegradable

While rayon can be made from bamboo, and fibers from other plants, the textile is processed with a harsh chemical that releases hazardous air pollutants, according to an FTC press release.

Companies marketing products under the names “ecoKashmere,” “Pure Bamboo,” “Bamboo Comfort,” and “BambooBaby” falsely claimed that their rayon clothing and other textile products were “100 percent bamboo fiber,”  the FTC charged.

Three of the companies – Sami Designs LLC, dba Jonäno; CSE Inc., Mad Mod; and Pure Bamboo LLC – have settled the FTC’s complaints, agreeing to stop making the false claims and to abide by the Commission’s Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (Textile Act) and Rules.

Litigation continues against The M Group, Inc., dba Bamboosa, and its principals.

The companies made additional “green” claims about their products, none of which the FTC found to be true or substantiated.

All four companies claim their items retain the bamboo plant’s antimicrobial properties. The settling companies – Jonäno, Mad Mod, and Pure Bamboo – also claim that their products are made using environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes. Meanwhile, Pure Bamboo and Bamboosa make unqualified claims that their products are biodegradable, and that they will completely break down and return to the elements found in nature.

The FTC notes that, even if the rayon used in the companies’ clothing and textile products is manufactured from bamboo, rayon does not retain any natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant because the manufacturing process involves dissolving the plant source in harsh chemicals, eliminating any such natural properties of the bamboo plant. In the same vein, the FTC says that the products are not made using an environmentally friendly process.

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2 thoughts on “FTC Charges Clothing Firms With ‘Bamboo-zling’ The Public

  1. Bonnie from Jonano says…
    Recently the FTC developed new labeling guidelines for the organic and natural product market including bamboo textiles. Our company, Sami Designs and the brands we produce including Jonano along with several other companies at the forefront of the eco textile and eco fashion world who work in bamboo were asked to ensure that our labeling and marketing to conform with these new guidelines. Jonano immediately signed on, agreeing to conform to the new labeling guidelines, while other companies are going to fight some of the specific new FTC guidelines that do not jive with the extensive testing and data widely available and accepted by research and testing facilities, and universities worldwide.
    Here are the facts:
    2005 Sami Designs began researching textiles and wrote a 90 page white paper on antimicrobial textiles including bamboo, chitin, alginin, and hemp. Testing data is included from several sources showing antimicrobial factors for both bamboo and hemp and biodegradability of bamboo crops and hemp crops and chitin/rayon fabrics. These quantitative tests were performed by Japan Textile Inspection Association, SWICOFIL, China Industrial Testing Center, Bambrotex.
    2006 the Jonano Brand began designing marketing and selling bamboo and hemp clothing. Characteristics such as grown without the use of pesticides, produced in a “closed loop system” that recirculates and captures agents used to convert the plant into fiber, “antimicrobial” were used in our marketing. All of these “claims” were due diligently researched and substantiated in writing by independent sources, textile manufacturing agencies and textile research organizations.
    2007 bamboo organic certification criteria was released by the FDA. Jonano chose to select only certified organic bamboo for our production and could then use the label “certified organic bamboo.”
    Beginning in 2008 Jonano switched our labeling of the organic bamboo content on our clothing production from “organic bamboo” to “viscose from organic bamboo,” after we received information that the government was ready to present labeling guidelines for this new eco textile that might require this switch shortly. Prior to this time no FDA guidelines for bamboo textiles were available and this fiber and fabric was labeled “bamboo” as had been accepted by the US Customs Department during importation and customs clearance for all Sami Designs products since we began.
    In 2009 Sami Designs received a mailing from the FTC asking that a settlement agreement be reached that Sami Designs would conform to the new FTC regulations and standards. We signed on immediately and went over all of our marketing materials with a fine tooth comb in order to ensure that we were in compliance with these new labeling and marketing standards.
    As for the claim that Sami Designs and our brands misrepresented our clothing products in our labels, no standardization was available until after we began using the term viscose from bamboo on our clothing. We are compliant with the new FTC labeling standards and never tried to mislead.
    As new eco textiles continue to be developed and brought to market, the challenge of this task includes working with agencies in developing labeling and organic certification standards, obtaining new organic certifications for these crops, and continually working towards better and safer ways to produce textiles. All textile production requires processing of crops into fibers to create fabrics that can be comfortably worn and enjoyed for years to come. Our goal is and has always been to develop great eco textiles that make a positive impact on the environment, on the farmers and growers, on our manufacturing and cooperative production facilities and most importantly on the lives of the people who choose to select organic fashion for their wardrobe.
    Our company makes available detailed information that describes the process of turning hardy organically grown bamboo into fiber that we select to create our viscose from organic bamboo blends sold under the Jonano ecoKashmere Collection. If anyone is interested in obtaining our testing data, simply write me through the contact us pages on the jonano.com website.
    We are currently working on new eco textiles including corn blends, peace silks and more. As always, technologies and scientific advancements precede governmental standardization. The end result of developing new and improved eco textiles, we envision, will be a world where fewer pesticides and fertilizers are used on textile crops, safer methods for producing textile fibers and fabrics continue to be developed and organic clothing and eco textiles continue to become more available.
    Although Jonano will not be participating in any fight with the FTC, we support the work of the companies who will be fighting to secure acceptance of the extensive research, testing and documentation and research that supports emerging new eco textiles so that we can all continue to expand the world of eco fashion together.
    With Metta,
    Bonnie

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