THE BLOG
03/08/2013 12:21 pm ET Updated May 08, 2013

Real or Faux Fur: What Consumers Need to Know

A September 2012 - January 2013 sting operation by The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS) revealed that fur-trimmed jackets inside two Century 21 stores in New York City, as well as on their website, were described as "faux fur" or simply not labeled at all, when they were actually real fur, including raccoon dog. In China, raccoon dogs are often skinned alive for their fur.

Undercover footage of Century 21 employees caught them trying in vain to find any fur labeling on the garments. The Federal Fur Products Labeling Act clearly states that all garments trimmed with animal fur must give the name of the animal along with the country where the animal was killed. For a copy of the complete investigative report, including photos of the purchased items and undercover footage, visit http://www.humanesociety.org/century21fur.

This is not the first time that real fur has been advertised or labeled incorrectly. In January of 2009, another HSUS investigation found that Bloomingdale's was selling unlabeled "Parajumpers" and "Steve by Searle" brand jackets trimmed with animal fur. Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman were also selling "Moncler" brand jackets trimmed with unlabeled animal fur.

How can consumers protect themselves from incorrectly labeled garments that contain fur? The best course of action is urging retailers like Century 21 to go fur-free. If this fails, review these guidelines created by The HSUS on how to tell real fur from faux fur.

While the HSUS has done a good job bringing the issue of misrepresented and unlabeled fur to consumers, it doesn't have the resources to investigate every store across the country to see if they are complying with the federal laws regarding fur. We need to be vigilant.

If you have a favorite department store, ask if they know what the law is about labeling real or faux fur products. Make sure that there are labels on all fur products and finally, encourage them to become fur free. If no one buys animal fur, the markets in China will dry up without the demand from America. Our goal should be a fur-free America.