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January 20, 2010

Consumer Protection Bill Introduced to Address Problem of Animal Fur Sold as Fake

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Humane Society of the United States applauds Assemblymember Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, for introducing Assembly Bill 1656, a measure to protect consumers from a loophole in federal law by requiring all garments sold in California that are made of animal fur to say so on the label. Ma's bill comes after investigations in the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento areas found unlabeled fur jackets for sale at well-known stores, in several instances being described by the salespeople as fake fur.

"Currently, a loophole allows fur from raccoon dogs and other animals to be dyed unnatural colors like pink, sewn onto a jacket, without any mention on the label," said Jennifer Fearing, The HSUS' California senior state director. "We thank Assemblymember Ma for introducing this important consumer protection bill."

In November 2009, an HSUS investigator accompanied a news crew in the Los Angeles area where it was discovered that unlabeled animal fur garments — as allowed by the current loophole — were being sold at stores including Bloomingdale's, Burlington Coat Factory and a children's boutique where the fur had been dyed pink.

"A.B. 1656 is about protecting consumer rights – I think there is an expectation that if clothing isn't labeled as real fur it must be fake fur. I was shocked to learn that in fact these furs are coming from animals like raccoon dogs or rabbits but just aren't labeled," said Assemblywoman Ma. "People have a right to know if they are buying raccoon dog or a polyester blend. It shouldn't be a mystery."

In January 2010, unlabeled animal fur apparel — as allowed by the current federal loophole — was found in the San Francisco area, including Coach brand boots at Macy's, a dyed pink jacket by Bryan Bradley at Loehmann's, and Baby Phat, Rocawear and Utex brand jackets at Burlington Coat Factory. In Sacramento, an unlabeled Nicole Miller jacket was discovered at a Loehmann's.

If California adopts A.B 1656, it would join Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin and become the sixth state with a fur labeling law.

B-roll is available for media download here.            

Timeline:

  • February 2006 – The HSUS announces widespread industry scandal finding raccoon dog fur for sale in the United States.
  • December 2006 – Tests commissioned by HSUS investigators find raccoon dog fur on jackets advertised as "faux" and labeled as other species such as raccoon or coyote.
  • February 2007 – Tests commissioned by HSUS investigators find domestic dog fur on unlabeled jackets advertised as "faux" fur.
  • March 2007 – The HSUS files petition with the Federal Trade Commission seeking to enforce the Fur Products Labeling Act.
  • August 2007 – New York Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal's legislation to require fur labeling signed into law in New York.
  • July 2008 – Delaware becomes fourth state to enact fur labeling law.
  • November 2008 – HSUS files suit against a number of major retailers including Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue for engaging in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.
  • May 2009 – U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., introduce The Truth in Fur Labeling Act, H.R. 2480 and S. 1076, to protect consumers by bringing much-needed accuracy and full disclosure to fur labeling laws.
  • November 2009 – New Jersey becomes the fifth state to enact fur labeling law.

Background:

  • The Federal Fur Products Labeling Act of 1951 was passed to protect consumers by requiring all garments with real fur to indicate species and country of origin on clothing labels, but a loophole allows some fur-trimmed garment to be exempt.
  • Raccoon dog is the most commonly unlabeled or misrepresented type of fur sold in the United States, according to HSUS investigations.
  • Raccoon dogs have been documented to be skinned alive in China for their fur.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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