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New report calls for clearer labelling of real fur products in the EU – Action needed now to better protect consumers

28.9.2017

Four Paws: Half of fur items in Germany and Austria lack correct labelling.

A new report by the Fur Free Alliance (FFA), which was presented at the European Parliament today, has revealed a woeful lack of compliance with an EU Regulation introduced in 2012 to alert consumers to the presence of real animal fur in textile products. As member of the animal protection coalition, Four Paws supports the call on the Commission to urgently introduce transparent, mandatory labelling of all real animal products offered for sale within the European Union.

Researchers in ten countries across the EU undertook a survey of 667 items of clothing containing real animal fur but failed to find the required wording in 68 per cent of cases. According to Four Paws investigations, 51 per cent of fur products in Germany and 49 per cent in Austria were not labelled. The problems were found to be most acute at the lower end of the fashion market on real fur items costing less than €50. These findings add to the groups’ concerns that the EU Textile Labelling Regulation (1007/2011) – even if fully complied with – does not go far enough to ensure consumers are being provided with the clear information they need to make an informed choice. 

"For consumers, this represents a real concern: you buy real fur without knowing it, because the clothes are not correctly labelled or not labelled at all. The EU regulation does not protect consumers sufficiently. That is why, together with the FFA, we are calling on the European Commission to introduce a legal regulation which clearly identifies all genuine fur products. This is the only way to ensure that consumers can make an informed choice and avoid buying real fur, because of the cruelty involved in its production."

Thomas Pietsch, leading wild animal expert at FOUR PAWS

At present, there is no requirement for products containing real fur to state that fact on the label. Instead, the labelling regulation, introduced in 2012, requires some items containing animal products (such as real fur, leather, feather, down and bone) to carry the wording ‘Contains non-textile parts of animal origin’. However, as the study shows, many real fur products are do not carry the wording and, even more confusingly for consumers, some of those same items are labelled as ‘100 % acrylic’ or similar. 

In addition, as the Regulation only covers textiles, a wide range of products, such as footwear, handbags and keychain accessories that contain real animal fur can be sold without any such labelling requirement.

The report findings also challenge the belief, held by many consumers, that real fur is expensive, with items trimmed with real fur, including the ubiquitous pompom bobble hats and hooded coats, found on sale for less than €50.

With autumn approaching and retailers stocking up on winter clothing, consumers need to be vigilant to avoid real animal fur – just because the price is cheap doesn’t mean that it isn’t real fur; and just because the label doesn’t state that an item is made of real fur, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain real fur.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the 2012 Regulation is failing consumers. The European Commission needs to take urgent action to ensure that there is transparency in the marketplace and that all products containing real fur are required, by law, to be clearly and accurately labelled so that consumers can decide whether or not they wish to buy them.

The report 'Mislabelled and Misleading: Fur Labelling Problems in the EU Market' was presented today in the European Parliament during a roundtable discussion. This meeting, which was hosted by Pascal Durand MEP (Greens/EFA) and John Flack (ECR), addressed the urgent need for a more accurate and transparent fur labelling system to give consumers the protection they deserve.

FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orang-utans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly. www.four-paws.org