May 13, 2010
Congress Hears Testimony on Widespread Deception in Fur-Trimmed Fashion Industry
The HSUS urges passage of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act
WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of The Humane Society of the United States, testified before the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in support of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (H.R. 2480). This legislation, introduced by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., would protect consumers by bringing much-needed accuracy and disclosure to fur labeling laws. The bill closes a loophole in federal law that allows some animal fur garments to go unlabeled if the value of the fur is less than $150, leaving consumers in the dark as to whether they are buying faux or animal fur.
"Many consumers choose to avoid buying and wearing animal fur, and they deserve to know what they're getting so they can make informed purchasing choices," said Markarian. "As a result of our investigations, we have found jackets trimmed with animal fur being sold without labels and falsely advertised as 'faux fur' across the country. Congress can easily close this loophole and require proper disclosure by passing the Truth in Fur Labeling Act."
Under current law, an estimated 13 percent of fur garments sold in the United States do not require labeling because the value of the fur is $150 or less, even if the fur is dyed pink or blue to look synthetic. The Fur Products Labeling Act, passed by Congress in 1951, already requires seven out of every eight fur garments to be labeled with the species of animal and country of origin, and The HSUS argues that the remaining fur-trimmed garments should be required to meet the same labeling standard. With the changes in the marketplace over the last half-century — such as increased use of fur trim and increased quality of synthetic fur — the fur labeling law needs to be updated to reflect present market realities.
- Designers and retailers already have an obligation to label fur garments with the name of the species and country of origin if the value of the fur material is more than $150. The new legislation would extend that same labeling standard to all fur and fur-trimmed apparel regardless of value.
- The HSUS investigation found raccoon dog fur on more than two-thirds of a nationwide sample of fur-trimmed jackets purchased from well-known retailers and designers. Of the raccoon dog fur jackets tested, not a single one properly identified the animal in advertising or labeling, instead calling it such things as faux fur, raccoon or simply not labeling it at all.
- H.R. 2480 has 166 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House. Companion legislation in the Senate, S. 1076, introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, has 33 bipartisan co-sponsors.
- The Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 banned the trade in domestic dog and cat fur after an HSUS investigation revealed the death toll of 2 million animals a year in China and other parts of Asia and found domestic dog fur for sale in the United States. The HSUS recently found domestic dog fur, which is now illegal, slipping into the country undetected because of the absence of labeling.
- A number of retailers and designers — such as Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Buffalo Exchange, Overstock.com, Burlington Coat Factory, Ed Hardy, Victoria Bartlett, Charlotte Ronson, and Andrew Marc — have publicly called for legislation to close the fur labeling loophole and require labeling of fur garments regardless of dollar value.
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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.