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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

House Passes Truth In Fur Labeling Act

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R. 2480, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, a bill by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., to provide a much-needed upgrade to the nearly 60-year-old federal fur labeling law. The HSUS and HSLF have been advocating for years that a new national policy was needed to ensure accuracy and consistency in the labeling of fur-trimmed apparel, after our investigations found dozens of major designers and retailers selling unlabeled jackets trimmed with animal fur, some of it falsely advertised as “faux fur.” There was no opposition to the bill in committee or today on the House floor, and we are urging the Senate to take swift action on this bipartisan bill to protect consumers and animals.

RaccoonDogPups Since the 1950s, any fur garment sold in the U.S. has had to include a label indicating the species of animal used and the country of origin, but there’s a gaping loophole in the current law that excludes fur-trimmed garments if the value of the fur is $150 or less. At current pelt prices, that means a jacket could have fur on its collar or cuffs from 30 rabbits ($5 each), nine chinchillas ($16 each), three foxes ($50 each), or three raccoon dogs ($45 each), and be sold without a label. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that one in every eight fur garments doesn’t require labeling.

Imagine if one in every eight medicine bottles or food packages didn’t have a label, especially if you avoid certain foods or medicines because of allergies, ethical or religious reasons. Consumers making well-informed decisions based on complete information is a cornerstone of a functioning market economy. Shoppers who may have allergies to fur, ethical objections to fur, or concern about the use of certain species, cannot make informed purchasing choices due to this gap in the current law.

With the technological advances in synthetic fur, and the dyeing of animal fur colors like pink and green to make it look fake, even the most careful and knowledgeable shoppers and department store clerks often can’t tell the difference simply by visually inspecting the material. Especially when consumers purchase designer jackets over the Internet, they have no choice but to trust the retailer’s statements about those garments. The only way to address this widespread deception in the marketplace is to attach a label to the individual garment.

We are especially grateful to Reps. Moran and Bono Mack for their leadership on this issue, and Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, who are leading the fight in the Senate. We also thank House 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 guide the bill forward and advance it swiftly through the House. Reps. Whitfield, John Sarbanes, D-Md., and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, all spoke eloquently today on the House floor in favor of the bill’s passage, and we thank them for their strong support.

It’s time for fur-trimmed jackets, parkas, sweaters, and vests to meet the same federal standard as other fur garments, and provide the same important product information that’s already required seven times out of eight. Please contact your two U.S. senators today, and ask them to get the Truth in Fur Labeling Act enacted quickly.

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