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Humane Society Turns Up Heat on Fur Labeling

The Humane Society of the U.S. filed another legal petition with the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday against several national retailers for false...

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the U.S. filed another legal petition with the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday against several national retailers for false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.

This story first appeared in the April 25, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The complaint alleged that a number of retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, Saks Inc., Caché Inc. and Sears, sold fur-trimmed garments that were falsely advertised or mislabeled as fake fur or genuine raccoon or coyote fur. But the complaint charges that tests done by the organization showed that the garments had fur derived from other sources or from members of the canine family such as raccoon dog, domestic dog or wolf. In some cases, fur advertised as fake was found to be rabbit fur, the Humane Society claimed. The tests were conducted as part of a probe that the Humane Society released in December.

The Humane Society charges that the mislabelings are violations of the Fur Products Labeling Act.

This is the second action filed by the organization with the FTC since March 2007 regarding mislabeled fur items. The Human Society urged the FTC to initiate proceedings against the companies seeking financial penalties of up to $5,000 per violation and to seize any mislabeled garments.

The list of companies previously named in the FTC proceedings has more than 20 companies on it, according to the Humane Society.

A spokeswoman for Saks said the coat in question was removed from Saks Fifth Avenue’s Web site last fall when it was learned it had been mistakenly informed of the content of the coat by the manufacturer. Other retailers named in the petition did not return phone calls seeking comment. An FTC spokesman said the agency does not comment when a petition is filed.