FTC warns Wal-Mart, Target, others on bamboo labeling

A worker carries a bamboo stick to be planted along the coastal line in a mangrove plantation at the Kok kham district in Samutsakorn province October 3, 2009. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators have sent letters to Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Amazon and 74 other companies warning them that rayon clothing and other products cannot be labeled as bamboo, the Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday.

The letters, which were sent last week, require companies to distinguish between bamboo and rayon, which can be made from any plant cellulose and is made with harsh chemicals.

“While we have seen action by some retailers to correct mislabeled clothing and textile products, our hope is that these warning letters will serve as a wake-up call to all companies, regardless of their size,” said David 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,” he said.

The letters were sent last week.

Telephone calls to Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon and Sears, which owns Kmart, were not immediately returned.