UK retailers told to use '˜burn test' to check if fur is fake

The advertising watchdog has instructed companies selling products which they advertise as fake fur to carry out individual testing to ensure that they do not contain real fur '“ or face tough sanctions.

Red jackets with a fake fur collar hanging in a store
Red jackets with a fake fur collar hanging in a store

Retailers have been given a month by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) to take action to ensure adverts which claim products are made of fake fur do not contain any real fur. It suggested that firms should undertake full laboratory testing on any product they sell – and if not, carry out a “burn test” to see how the fur reacts.

CAP warned that if it continues to see problems in this area after 11 February, it will sanction the companies involved, including a referral to Trading Standards authorities – its “backstop” of last resort.

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The warning comes days after online fashion retailer Boohoo was slammed for a pompom jumper – billed as being made from “faux fur” – which was found in testing by animal welfare charity Humane Society International to contain real fur, most likely, rabbit.

At the same time, another for a pompom headband sold on Amazon by Zacharia Jewellers was also deemed to have broken rules set by CAP. Humane Society International, which has been stepping up calls for a ban on UK fur sales, has conducted an ongoing investigation into the “faux fur” market across the UK.

Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP, said: “Misleading advertising is always unfair to consumers and to businesses that compete fairly for people’s custom. Our enforcement notice gives responsible businesses the tools to ensure that ads for ‘faux fur’ products don’t mislead and are marketed responsibly.”

The organisation published a guide to testing whether or not a product contains real fur, including checking the base of the fur for leather or skin; if it tapers rather than being blunt and if it smells like human hair or plastic when burnt.

Guy Parker, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, said: “Consumers shouldn’t be misled into buying a faux fur product in good conscience only for it to turn out to be made from a real animal. That’s not just misleading, it can also be deeply upsetting.”

Cap said that it was “aware that it is more difficult for online marketplaces to examine all the products sold on the platform” but said platforms “have a responsibility”.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International UK, said: “We welcome the ASA’s firm action to ban companies from falsely advertising real fur as faux.”