beware of “innovative” textiles with often misleading labels

Train daily with the latest sportswear, why not… but provided they honor their advertised promises. And as such, some innovative features would be highly misleading, as shown by a recent Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) survey prepared by UFC-Que Choisir. What are we talking about ? So-called “technical” textiles, ie that meet specific functionalities and performances, the manufacturer ensures that they are either “breathable”, “antiperspirant”, “antibacterial”, “thermoregulating”, “ergonomic” or even resistant to tear, prevent bad odors and block UV rays. † These substances respond to new needs related in particular to the development of sports practices. Their aim is to improve the comfort, resistance and hygiene of the products. More and more professionals are therefore claiming its use in their products. say the report’s authors.

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Admittedly, the technical features stated on the labels try to meet the growing expectations of consumers in terms of well-being and hygiene. But the suppression of fraud reveals that certain descriptions and labeling resort to an accumulation of “scientific” terms that are supposed to correspond to innovative technologies, while these terms in question are not explained by details about the objective properties of the products. Their presence would rather be explained for ” convince and encourage the consumer to buy the product† However, the law is clear: any technical property can only be claimed if it is based on verifiable scientific evidence. During the study, 36% of the 67 checked establishments were abnormal, with in particular 13 warnings, 5 of which focused on “ misleading claims and non-compliance with regulations and 10 injunctions, including 6 to obtain supporting documents or change labeling. Sanctions that should encourage companies to correct their commercial discourse regarding the technical properties of their products.

Antibacterial or “anti-odor” products: biocide treatments used

So there has been an escalation in the use of commercial claims, but also a tendency to exaggerate the real benefits of the products. In particular, the DGCCRF points to the properties advertised on “thermoregulating”, “breathable” and “ergonomic” products, which have not always been adequately established. Thereby, ” some professionals are unable to provide supporting documents to prove the validity of their claims. The problem ? This can mislead, or even mislead, the consumer into buying a product that does not necessarily have the advertised features.† ”, note the authors of the survey. With regard to antibacterial or “anti-odour” products, the situation is reversed: biocides that are used but not mentioned. More specifically, these are properties that are often only emphasized on the labeling, without further details, and generally refer to biocide treatments containing chemicals, sometimes in the form of nanoparticles.

However, their use must be indicated on the labeling of the products (Regulation No. 528/2012 on biocidal products). The DGCCRF laboratory, which analyzed six samples, confirmed that two products have been treated with silver nanoparticles without this information being brought to the attention of consumers. Following the results, the operators marketing these two products have withdrawn them from the market. † But how many others are still on the shelves? asks the UFC Que Choisir. Indeed, the DGCCRF mentions the growing interest of manufacturers in nanomaterials, whose structure has at least one dimension between 1 and 100 nanometers approximately, which are increasingly used in food, cosmetics and medicine. But given concerns related to their impact on health and the environment, DGCCRF is asking manufacturers to communicate more about the identity of the biocidal chemicals used, especially where consumers do not have physical access to the products.