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Last updated: March 2010
During the last couple of years, Carter’s and parents around the country have learned that some infants can be allergic to heat-transferred, or “tag-less or tag-free,” labels used in baby and infant clothing. These tag-less labels are commonly used in a wide variety of infant clothing brands, including Carter’s.
Naturally, we are very concerned about this and want to make sure that all parents know that even though this is rare, the materials in tag-less labels could trigger an allergic reaction in some children. As a result, children with allergic reactions may develop a localized rash in the general area of the label on the upper back.
Carter’s first became aware of these allergic reactions following the tag-less labels we used in our Fall 2007 product line and similar labels used in other infant clothing brands. We have taken a number of steps to address this concern:
Carter’s is committed to being the industry leader in product safety and quality. We take pride in knowing that parents rely on us to provide trusted products that help make their lives simpler. As always, we are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact our Consumer Affairs center anytime at 888-782-9548.
Is there a recall on the Fall 2007 products?
No. Carter’s has used tag-less labels on hundreds of millions of products and our experience with these labels is that they are safe. Carter’s has coordinated directly with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on this issue.
If there is no recall then why did Carter’s issue a release with the CPSC in 2008?
We worked closely with the CPSC to issue a release in 2008 to make sure that consumers are alerted to the situation in the event that their infant has an allergic reaction. Naturally, we are very concerned about any child who may have had a skin rash while wearing our garments. We are continuing to work closely with the CPSC to assess updated information we receive and how we communicate that to our customers.
How can parents tell if they have one of the labels from Fall 2007?
These labels have a raised surface with a solid, rather than stenciled, background.
Fall 2007 Label with solid background.
Spring 2008 Label with stenciled background, indicates the difference in backgrounds from the 2007 labels.
Spring 2009 Label with stenciled background, indicates the difference in backgrounds from the 2008 labels.
What should I do if my child has a reaction to a tag-less label?
You should stop using the garment that caused the reaction. If the condition persists, please contact your pediatrician for advice. We also encourage anyone with questions or comments to contact us at 1-888-282-4674.
Is this reaction serious?
It is our understanding that the reaction is a type of allergic reaction called contact dermatitis and that it generally clears up completely within a matter of days after removal from contact with the allergen. If the condition persists, please contact your pediatrician for advice.
What about the reports that this is something other than an allergy?
All of the information we have received from our doctors, researchers, label manufacturers and even many consumers, points to this being an allergic reaction.
We have been assured by our label manufacturers and other experts that these labels contain no abrasive chemicals or irritants. The doctors and experts we’ve spoken to told us that if this reaction was a “chemical burn,” then nearly everyone who came in contact with the labels would have had the same reaction. And that’s just not what we are seeing; it continues to be a very rare reaction.
What is in the Fall 2007 labels?
We purchase the tag-less labels directly from multiple U.S.-based label suppliers. The suppliers are aware of our quality and safety standards and have provided us with third-party test results that indicate that the labels are in compliance with all existing safety and quality standards. The label contains the standard ink formulation used by many companies on literally billions of garments in the United States. The label is applied by means of a standard screen transfer, similar to an iron-on screen print, the same type of technology used for many years and on many types of garments. The specific ingredients and relative percentages of the ink formula for the label vary depending on the colors and style of the particular label, but it is our understanding from the manufacturers that it is generally the same type of ink that has been used on clothing for many years ranging from children's clothing to adult intimate apparel.
It appears that a very small percentage of children can be allergic to one or more ingredients in the labels. The solid, rather than stenciled, background on the Fall 2007 labels appears to have produced a more pronounced and noticeable reaction among those children who are most allergic to the ink. For stylistic reasons, Carter’s switched back to the smaller labels for our Spring and Fall 2008 line.
Starting with the spring 2009 line, all of our label manufacturer’s ink formulas in our tag-less labels are now made up of water-based inks. The ink formulas are free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances that are known to be detrimental to human health; they are PVC-free; and they contain no Azo dyes, formaldehyde, heavy metals or vinyl products. Going forward, we will continue to work with each of our label manufacturers to help move towards full Oeko-Tex 100 certification for their labels, including all inks and label materials.
Where are these products manufactured?
We purchase the tag-less labels from multiple U.S.-based suppliers. The garments in which these labels were used were manufactured in various foreign countries, including Guatemala, China and the Philippines.
What kind of testing do you do on Carter’s clothing before it is available to consumers?
Carter’s garments fully comply with all existing quality and safety regulations applicable to children's clothing. There are approximately 50 different tests and standards applicable to these garments. These include strict standards for: flammability, strength, colorfastness, fit, comfort and content. The various testing that we perform on all our garments allows us to check for known irritants, toxins and other substances that are banned from children’s clothing. Each year our suppliers must also provide us with certification that their products contain no banned substances.
Why did Carter’s originally switch to tag-less labels?
Switching to tag-less labels was done in an effort to respond to consumers’ concerns. For years the clothing industry dealt with complaints about fabric tags causing irritation in people’s necks, particularly children. In response, Carter’s (and the apparel industry in general) moved towards tag-less labels as a general improvement for our consumers.
What do I do if I’m not satisfied with my Carter’s clothing?
Please contact our Consumer Affairs staff at 888-782-9548.
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