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July 28, 2010

The HSUS, HSLF Praise House for Passing Bill to Address Deception in Fur-Trimmed Fashion Industry

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (H.R. 2480) by voice vote today. 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 products. The HSUS and HSLF urge the Senate to quickly pass this legislation.

The bill closes a loophole in federal law that allows some animal fur garments to go unlabeled if the value of the fur is $150 or less, leaving consumers in the dark as to whether they are buying faux or animal fur. HSUS investigations have found jackets trimmed with animal fur being sold without labels and falsely advertised as "faux fur" across the country. 

"Many consumers prefer to avoid buying and wearing animal fur, and they deserve to have the information to make informed purchasing choices," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer for The HSUS. "The Truth in Fur Labeling Act would protect consumers by requiring all garments containing animal fur to be accurately labeled. The Humane Society of the United States applauds the House of Representatives for passing this common-sense legislation and urges the Senate to take swift action."

Under current law, an estimated 13 percent of animal fur garments sold in the United States do not require labeling of fur content 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 H.R. 2480 would require that the remaining fur-trimmed garments 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.

"Consumers expect to have access to all necessary information in order to make informed purchases. Unfortunately, a current loophole in federal regulations exempts a sizable portion of U.S. garments containing fur from labeling requirements. This means consumers could be purchasing products with the expectation that they bought 'faux' fur, but which actually contain real fur, perhaps from a dog or cat," said Rep. Moran. "This legislation will close that loophole and provide consumers with the product information they expect and deserve."

"I am pleased that the passage of this legislation will close the loophole that has for too long allowed companies to sell fur products made from cats and dogs as 'faux fur,'" said Congresswoman Bono Mack. "It is important that consumers are provided with product labels that allow them to make informed decisions on their purchases, and this bill will help provide clarity for customers."

The HSUS and HSLF expressed their thanks to Reps. Moran and Bono Mack for their leadership on this critical animal welfare and consumer protection issue. The groups also thanked Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif.; Ranking Member Joe Barton, R-Texas; Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush, D-Ill.; and Ranking Member Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., for their work to advance the bill swiftly; as well as Reps. Whitfield, John Sarbanes, D-Md., and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, for speaking in favor of the bill today on the House floor. The Federal Trade Commission, consumer organizations, designers and retailers are backing the legislation.

Facts

  • Gucci Group, Burberry, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Buffalo Exchange, Overstock.com, Ed Hardy, Victoria Bartlett, Charlotte Ronson, and Andrew Marc, among other retailers and designers, have endorsed closing the fur labeling loophole.
  • 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 garnered tremendous bipartisan support 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 dogs and cats 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 on unlabeled jackets.
  • The HSUS testified in favor of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act in May.

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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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