COMMONS

Committee finds Trading Standards and retailers ‘complacent’

22 July 2018

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee publishes its report, Fur Trade in the UK. The inquiry was launched following reports that real fur is being sold as fake fur by major high-street and online retailers.

Poor at enforcing regulations

The Committee found that retailers, local authorities and Trading Standards have been poor at enforcing regulations around the sale of real fur and that Brexit provides an opportunity for the UK to improve its system of labelling. Further, the Committee recommends a public consultation to ban the sale of all fur outright.

Chairs' Comments

Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said:

“Reports of real fur being sold as fake fur shows that retailers are flouting their responsibility to consumers. The mis-selling of real fur should not be discovered by campaign organisations and the media, but by Trading Standards officers and retailers.

“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.

“Brexit provides an opportunity to step up our game when it comes to labelling. 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 report found:

On Local Authorities and Trading Standards:

  • All retailers have a responsibility to ensure that they are selling items as described – failing to do is illegal. Retailers named in the report have not done enough to counter the accidental selling of real fur.
  • Recent work to improve the supply chain and communications with online sellers is welcome and must continue, and the retail industry must not be complacent.
  • Trading Standards officers have been poor at enforcing the law against such retailers. The Government must ensure that Local Authorities are properly resourced to deliver these services, and local authorities must take more responsibility for doing so. 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.

On Brexit opportunities:

  • The current EU labelling regime, namely the ‘animal origin’ label, lacks clarity and is confusing for retailers and consumers alike.
  • The Government has acknowledged that EU labelling is confusing and needs amending. The Government's ability to amend the labelling regime after Brexit will depend on the nature of the future EU-UK trading relationship.
  • 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.
  • We further recommend that the Government holds a public consultation to consider whether to ban fur. In looking at whether to ban the sale and import of fur post-Brexit, the Government will have to balance the needs of animal welfare against consumer choice.

Background

Fur farming was banned in the UK in 2000. EU regulations ban trade in fur from domestic cats, dogs or commercial seal hunts. The UK still imports and sells fur from a range of other species such as fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, racoon dog and chinchillas.

There have been recent high-profile cases of fur being sold as fake fur by major high-street and online retailers. Retailers included TK Maxx, BooHoo, Amazon, Not On The High Street, Groupon, Etsy, Tesco, FatFace, Boots, Kurt Geiger, and Romwe. Many of these retailers had no-fur policies. This “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.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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