Committee finds retailers “complacent” over fake fur scandal

March 22, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, which launched an
inquiry into the reports that real fur was being sold as fake fur by major
high street and online retailers, has found that retailers, local
authorities and Trading Standards have been “poor at enforcing regulations”
around the sale of real fur.

The committee, which heard evidence from retailers and the industry,
stated that retailers have a responsibility to ensure that they are selling
items as described – failing to do so is illegal. Retailers named in the
report, including House of Fraser and Missguided they said did not do
enough to counter the accidental selling of real fur.

Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Committee, said in a statement: “Retailers of all sizes are complacent
about the issue of fake faux fur. It is illegal to give misleading
information and Trading Standards have been poor at identifying and acting
against those who are doing so. The Government must ensure that Local
Authorities are properly resourced, and local authorities should ensure
that Trading Standards are properly trained.”

Missguided and Boohoo both gave evidence to the committee and said they
had since changed their checking processes and increased sample testing,
while House of Fraser said it had worked closely with Humane Society
International to improve awareness of the issue among staff as well as
stating that improved labelling would improve transparency in the fur
industry.

As well as retailers being described as “complacent”, the committee also
said that Trading Standards officers have been poor at enforcing the law
against such retailers and added that The Government must ensure that Local
Authorities are properly resourced to deliver these services, and local
authorities must take more responsibility for doing so.

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  • It added that Local Authorities should provide training to Trading
    Standards officers on this issue and to conduct proactive investigations
    into the mis-sale of real fur as fake fur.

    Fur inquiry recommends improved labelling to ensure consumer
    confidence

    At the centre of the findings was to ensure that consumers were
    confidence in the products they are purchasing, with consumers having a
    right to know what they are buying, with the committee highlighting that
    the current EU labelling regime “lacks clarity” and is confusing for
    retailers and consumers alike.

    For instance, the report notes that the “animal origin” label is
    unclear, and can refer to a number of animal products in a garment, it does
    not specifically identify when a product contains real animal fur. It added
    that the labelling of clothes has to be “consistent, transparent and
    customer-friendly”.

    The committee stated that Brexit provides an opportunity for the UK to
    improve its system of labelling, while adding that the Government’s ability
    to amend the labelling regime after Brexit will depend on the nature of the
    future EU-UK trading relationship. However, it did recommend that a new
    mandatory labelling regime that identifies fur and other animal products
    accurately should be introduced post-Brexit. The label should show the
    species of fur, the country of origin and method of production.

    “Brexit provides an opportunity to step up our game when it comes to
    labelling,” added Parish. “The labelling of clothes must be consistent,
    transparent and customer-friendly, but current EU requirements are not good
    enough to allow consumers to understand the origin and contents of their
    clothing. Finally, the Government should consider launching a consultation
    to ban the sale of real fur outright.”

    The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee calls for public
    consultation on whether to ban fur

    The committee also recommended that the Government holds a public
    consultation to consider whether to ban fur, stating in the report that the
    breeding and sale of fur is a “very emotive subject” and as well as
    presenting the moral arguments against fur farming, animal welfare
    campaigners highlight the conditions in which animals are reared, and their
    lack of natural behaviour.

    It notes that the fur industry, has established assurance schemes to
    ensure that animals are bred and raised to industry standards to counter
    these concerns, although it adds “that there are concerns as to whether
    these standards go far enough”.

    The report states that Government will have to balance the needs of
    animal welfare against consumer choice, when it looks into whether to ban
    the sale and import of fur post-Brexit.

    In response to the committee’s report, animal rights charity Humane
    Society International UK, which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign, said
    that it had presented detailed evidence of the inherent cruelty of fur
    farming and trapping, as well as the ‘moral inconsistency’ between the UK’s
    ban on fur farming and the importation of fur, described by the charity as
    ‘outsourcing cruelty’.

    “The UK Government has the opportunity to blaze a trail as the first
    country to ban the sale of all animal fur.”

    Humane Society International UK executive director Claire Bass said in a
    statement: “The UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming,
    after the British public, politicians and veterinary experts concluded that
    it is an inhumane and completely unnecessary industry. So it is total
    double standard for us to still be importing and selling fur from animals
    still suffering the same conditions we banned here.

    “The UK Government has the opportunity to blaze a trail as the first
    country to ban the sale of all animal fur, so we are delighted that EFRA
    Committee members are pressing government to launch a public consultation
    to help inform and build that case.”

    Bass added: “Our FurFreeBritain campaign already has the support of the
    British public, veterinary experts, as well as an ever-growing list of
    retailers and designers who see that the future of fashion is fur-free.
    With innovation in textiles offering high quality humane alternatives to
    real fur, the fur trade’s days are clearly numbered, but it can’t end
    quickly enough for the hundreds of millions of animals trapped and
    tormented in tiny cages. A UK ban would be a major nail in the coffin of
    this morally bankrupt industry.”

    The animal rights charity also calls on the Government to introduce a
    new mandatory fur and animal product labelling regime to enable consumers
    to make informed buying choices, in support of the committee’s
    recommendations.

    The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee held the inquiry after
    numerous high-profile cases of fur being sold as fake fur by major
    high-street and online retailers including TK Maxx, Boohoo, Amazon,
    NotOnTheHightStreet, Groupon, Etsy, Tesco, FatFace, Boots, Kurt Geiger, and
    Romwe. Many of these retailers had no-fur policies, however, the ‘fake faux
    fur’ was made from a variety of animal including rabbit, fox and
    chinchilla.

    The Committee took evidence from representatives from Amazon,
    NotOnTheHightStreet, Camden Market, The Humane Society, Trading Standards,
    Fur Europe, the British Fur Trade Association, International Fur
    Federation, and representatives from Defra.

    Images: courtesy of Humane Society International UK