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Unlabelled fur garments face EU clampdown

Shoppers with allergies or objections to fur will be protected by new rules to make sure clothes with animal trimmings are clearly marked.

Image: es74273 via Flickr

CLOTHES CONTAINING ANIMAL products will have to be clearly labelled after the European Parliament approved new rules to prevent consumers from inadvertently buying fur and leather.

The legislation is designed to protect allergy sufferers – whose health can be at risk from contact with real fur – as well as shoppers who do not wear animal products on principle. Previously, genuine fur was sometimes used in the trimmings of inexpensive clothes and could be difficult to tell from a good-quality fake.

Under the new rules, which were endorsed in a show of hands by MEPs, such garments will have to be marked: “Contains non-textile parts of animal origin”.

Fur can cause sneezing, a runny nose, red or itchy rashes and watery eyes in people with allergies. The new legislation follows legal moves in the States last year, where retailers were found to be selling jackets whose hoods were trimmed with raccoon fur. In some stores salespeople told shoppers the material was fake fur; in others, it was dyed a bright colour.

The Truth In Fur Labelling Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama last December, contains similar labelling provisions to the new EU bill.

Labour MEP Phil Prendergast welcomed the European Parliament’s move, saying: “EU citizens have a right to know the make-up of the clothes they wear. This regulation will allow them to identify products containing elements of animal origin.

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“When used in garments, for example, as trimmings, such materials are currently not subject to mandatory labelling. Most consumers are unaware of this, and may not know the exact make-up of the textiles they buy.

“Some people don’t want to wear garments made from animals on ethical grounds. This directive will mean they can make more informed choices about the clothes they buy. Allergy sufferers also stand to gain from this proposal, as animal hides can cause adverse reactions such as asthma and skin irritation.”

The European Parliament’s Council of Ministers, representing the governments of EU member states, are due to sign off on the bill next month.

About the author:

Michael Freeman

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