UK MPs say retailers must take responsibility for real fur sold as faux

Online retailers need to step up and take more responsibility for the labelling and for establishing the provenance of products they sell to ensure real fur labelled as faux isn’t slipping through, a UK committee of MPs has said.


If fur trims are mislabelled, shoppers could find themselves buying real fur that they think is faux


The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee said e-tailers frequently don't have robust policies around the issue even when they discover that their suppliers are mis-selling real fur, which means they're not contacting Trading Standards officers when they should.

There have been a number of scandals in the UK in recent years with products made from what is described as faux fur often turning out to contain real fur such as rabbit.

EFRA said policies need to be put in place as soon as possible and called on the biggest names in the e-commerce sector to take a lead. 

The committee heard evidence from Amazon and Not on the High Street, as well as from Camden Market, Trading Standards, and fur industry representatives. And it said it’s concerned that the big names do not see it as their responsibility to work harder to prevent mislabelling.

But just how big is the problem? That’s not clear. The fashion fur revival of the early years of this century has gone into reverse with Millennial shoppers coming down firmly on the anti-fur side. But this has coincided with improvements in fake fur materials and a strong fake fur trim trend. Loosely controlled supply chains mean shoppers have bought items they thought contained faux fur but didn’t, although we don’t know how often this has happened. But it’s not difficult to search marketplace websites and find plenty of mislabelled products even today.

MP Neil Parish, EFRA chairman said: “UK customers deserve to know what they are buying online, particularly when ordering products containing real fur that are advertised as faux fur.

“Many individuals have ethical, environmental, or personal reasons for choosing faux fur. Any customer should be able to have confidence that there are adequate safeguards ensuring that products are as advertised.”

Campaign group the Humane Society International praised Not on the High Street for steps it has taken to eradicate the use of real fur in its products, but it said Amazon’s approach isn’t as robust as it could be in ensuring that its marketplace sellers adhere to its no-fur policy. 

Interestingly, even the chief executive of the British Fur trade association, Mike Moser, agrees that something needs to be done. He said this week that consumers deserve to know exactly what they’re buying but blamed current labelling regulations for part of the problem. 

“The EU labelling regulation on textile fibre names stipulates that the presence of fur – or a number of other animal products – needs to be indicated only when the collective weight of these parts is less than 20% by weight of the textile component,” he said. “The required label must then read, ‘Contains non-textile part of animal origin’, wording which is unclear and confusing for most people. What’s more, a product with 21% fur by weight does not have to stipulate the presence of fur.”

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