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December 8, 2010

U.S. Senate Passes Truth in Fur Labeling Act

President Obama urged to quickly sign bill into law

 

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund applaud the U.S. Senate for unanimously approving an important bipartisan bill to protect consumers and animals. The Truth in Fur Labeling Act (H.R. 2480), which passed the House of Representatives in July and now goes to President Obama's desk, will bring much-needed accuracy and disclosure to fur products. 

The HSUS and HSLF expressed their thanks to the sponsors of this legislation—Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.—for their leadership on this critical animal welfare and consumer protection issue, and to House and Senate leaders for working to bring the bill over the finish line in Congress.

The legislation closes a loophole in federal law that currently 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 across the country without labels or falsely advertised as "faux fur".

"Many consumers prefer to avoid buying and wearing animal fur, and everyone deserves to have accurate information to make informed purchasing choices," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer for The HSUS. "The Truth in Fur Labeling Act will protect consumers by requiring all garments containing animal fur to be accurately labeled."

"We applaud the U.S. Senate and House for passing this common-sense legislation and we urge President Obama to quickly sign it into law."

Under current law, an estimated 13 percent of animal fur garments sold in the United States do not have to be labeled for fur content because the value of the fur is $150 or less, even if the fur is dyed pink or blue or otherwise processed to look synthetic. The Fur Products Labeling Act, originally 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. Updating this nearly six-decades-old labeling law will level the playing field, requiring that the remaining fur-trimmed garments meet the same labeling standard. The Federal Trade Commission, consumer organizations, designers, and retailers back this legislation.

The sponsors speak out

"This bill is more than just empowering consumers to be able to make informed decisions about where their dollars go, and this kind of labeling is more than just picking the right size or the preferred brand," said Sen. Menendez. "This is about allowing consumers to make decisions about whether they want to support a practice—a practice that, given all the facts, so many would be adamantly opposed to."

"I strongly believe that the public should have the ability to make informed choices regarding fur trimmed garments. Currently garments are allowed to go unlabeled if the value of the fur used is less than $150. As a result, consumers have no way of knowing whether these garments use faux or real fur. Our legislation, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, would close this loophole, and better protect both animals and consumers," said Sen. Collins.

"Most people would be outraged to learn that their favorite hat or pair of gloves was lined, not with faux fur, but with the fur of their favorite companion animal—but it's a reality due to a loophole in current law that allows apparel worth less than $150 to go unlabeled," said Rep. Moran. "My bill applies the current common sense labeling standards to the estimated 13 percent of the fur market that falls beneath the $150 threshold. Finally, consumers will get the truth about the composition of their fur and faux fur items."

"Passage of this bill will help eliminate confusion regarding the use of 'faux fur' by companies that use the fur of various animals, including cats and dogs, in their products and seek to identify it as ‘faux fur,’" said Congresswoman Bono Mack. "By eliminating the loophole that allowed this practice to continue, consumers will finally have the information they need to make better and more informed choices when purchasing products that incorporate ‘faux fur.’ I am grateful for the bipartisan support this measure received and applaud its passage."

"I am pleased that we were able to get this important bill passed. Consumers deserve accurate information, and closing the loopholes will ensure that unscrupulous dealers are not breaking the law," said Sen. Vitter.

"For too long loopholes in current law have allowed for fur products to be falsely advertised or altogether mislabeled," said Rep. Whitfield. "The Truth in Fur Labeling Act is an important step in ensuring consumers have the accurate information they need to make informed decisions and I am pleased to support this important 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.
  • An 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 171 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, and S. 1076 has 34 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate.  
  • The Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 banned the trade in domestic dog and cat fur after an HSUS investigation revealed the gruesome deaths of 2 million dogs and cats a year in China and other parts of Asia for the fur trade and found domestic dog and cat fur for sale in the United States. The HSUS later found domestic dog fur slipping into the country on unlabeled jackets.
  • The HSUS testified in favor of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act at a House subcommittee hearing on May 13.

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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.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues and to support humane candidates for office. On the Web at hslf.org.

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