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25/01/2018 17:41 GMT

Some Online Retailers Are 'Awash' With Real Fur Mislabelled As Fake, According To Humane Society International

High street shops can also have trouble distinguishing between the two.

Following an investigation that found real fur mislabelled as fake in major high street retailers, including Tesco and Boots, Humane Society International (HSI) has said the problem is even more wide-spread online.

“The amount of fake faux fur for sale is truly shocking,” Harriet Barclay, media and campaigns manager at the animal welfare group, told HuffPost UK.

“Our investigation shows that mislabelled fur can be found in trusted retailers on the high street, but we have found the problem to be most wide-spread online with some retailers being awash with mislabelled fur.”

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“Our research has also uncovered that boutique shops and markets often have a plethora of animal fur being sold as faux,” Barclay added.

“People expect real fur to come in the form of full mink coats or fox fur scarfs, what they don’t expect is that it will be dyed bright colours, fashioned into pompoms or trims, attached to accessories like hats, gloves and shoes, sold at very cheap price points and of course mislabelled as faux.”

HSI found hair clips available to buy in Boots contained mink fur - although they were labelled as being faux. A faux fur pom pom key chain from Tesco and gloves from Fat Face turned out to contain rabbit fur. 

Boots / Humane Society International
The fur hair clips sold in Boots as faux fur.

The HSI is disappointed in these large conglomerates for not being able to control fur entering their retail process.

A Boots spokesperson told The Times earlier this week that tests had confirmed the hair clips contained fur and so they had been removed from stores and its website.

“We would like to apologise for any distress this causes customers and we are offering a full refund should customers wish to return the product to stores,” the spokesperson said.

Tesco removed the key chain from sale and emphasised that it had been sold on its website by a third party seller.

Fat Face raised the risk status of a supplier that manufactured its gloves.

Boots / Humane Society International
The fur hair clips sold in Boots as faux fur.

But those shops aren’t the only ones falling foul of mislabelled fur. Items on sale at Amazon, Boohoo, T.K Maxx, Groupon, Miss BardoMissguided and House of Fraser were called into question by a previous HSI investigations and Forever 21 has also been the subject of an investigation by ‘Good Morning Britain’.

According to Barclay currently there is no legal requirement for labels to state if an item contains real or faux fur.

“Whilst ultimately we’d like to see a ban on fur imports and sales, something the government can and must do urgently is introduce mandatory labelling for all fur, telling shoppers that’s it’s real fur, the country it came from, as well as how the animal was raised and killed, as is already the case in the Swiss fur labelling law,” she said.

If retail outlets are unaware of real fur infiltrating their stores, how can shoppers be confident that what they’re buying is fake?

There are certain tell-tale signs for consumers to be aware, which can be found here.  

If anyone is concerned that they have purchased animal fur sold as faux fur they can get in touch with HSI UK for it to be investigated further.