WASHINGTON — On complaints of falsely labeling and advertising rayon textiles as made from “bamboo,” four companies — Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., Nordstrom, Inc., J.C. Penney Company, Inc. and Backcountry.com LLC — will settle charges by paying penalties totaling $1.3 million, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports.
“It’s misleading to call bamboo that has been chemically processed into rayon simply ‘bamboo,’” says Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. It’s important for consumers to “know that textiles marketed as environmentally friendly alternatives may not be as ‘green’ as they were led to believe.”
The Commission charged the four companies with violating the Textile Act and the Textile Rules and with violating Section 5(m)(1)(B) of the FTC Act by falsely and deceptively selling the mislabeled products, despite knowing that doing so was illegal and could subject them to civil penalties.
Specifically, the FTC reported that Bed Bath and Beyond’s mislabeled items, also sold through its subsidiary buybuy BABY, included dozens of “bamboo” textiles, including “Aden + Anais Bamboo 3-Pack Muslin Swaddles” and “Bamboo Blend Napkins.”
Nordstrom sold similar products online and in its stores, including a “Gypsy 05 Bamboo Racerback Hi-Lo Dress” and “Degree Six Clothing The Bamboo Long Sleeve Tee,” the FTC reports.
J.C. Penney sold numerous “bamboo” products in its stores and online, including “Muk Luks 4-pk Men’s Bamboo Socks.” Also, it falsely claimed “bamboo” gave the products antimicrobial properties, according to the FTC.
Backcountry.com sold “bamboo” textiles, such as “Bridgedale Bamboo Crew Sock – Men’s,” and also made anti-microbial claims about its “bamboo” products, the FTC reports.
The proposed orders settling the FTC’s charges are identical, aside from the civil penalty amounts. They prohibit the companies from violating the FTC’s Textile Act and Rules by failing to properly identify the fiber content when labeling and advertising any textiles containing manufactured fibers.
The FTC says it is sending letters to retailers to help protect consumers from deceptive “bamboo” claims, recommending that retailers check their own inventories and ensure proper labeling and advertising of rayon textile products.
Under the settlement, Bed Bath and Beyond Inc. will pay $500,000; Nordstrom Inc. will pay $360,000; J.C. Penney Co. Inc. will pay $290,000; and Backcountry.com LLC will pay $150,000 for the alleged violations.