FUR your information
If you have clients who sell furs or fur-trimmed items, make sure they’re up to date on regulatory developments that affect their industry.
The Fur Products Labeling Act gives shoppers important information they need in making purchase decisions. Under the Act and accompanying FTC rules, fur manufacturers, dealers, and retailers must label products made entirely or partly of fur with information about the kind of fur the product contains, the garment’s country of origin, and other facts prospective buyers will want to know.
Until now, the FTC applied a de minimis exemption to the labeling requirement, exempting products containing fur or fur trim with a component value of $150 or less. But as of March 18th, that exemption no longer applies.
Last year Congress passed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which eliminated that exemption. Starting today, fur products previously covered by the exemption are now subject to the disclosure requirements of the Fur Products Labeling Act.
What about items already in the stream of commerce? The FTC has issued an Enforcement Policy, which says that the agency will not take steps to enforce the fur labeling requirements against retailers covered by the former exemption, provided the product in question:
- was received by March 18, 2011, and is sold by March 18, 2012; and
- is not mislabeled under the old requirements.
During this period of forbearance, the FTC encourages retailers to communicate content information in other ways. As Congress recognized in passing the new law, prospective buyers want to know if a garment contains fur. Where re-labeling is impractical, the FTC suggests adding a hang tag clearly disclosing that the item contains fur and identifying the kind of fur. Disclosing information that way strikes a sensible balance between the FTC’s interest in full compliance and concerns raised by the industry about products already out there.
But that’s not all that’s new in the Truth in Fur Labeling Act. The law creates an exemption for furs sold by trappers and hunters in certain face-to-face transactions from home or at temporary locations like craft fairs. Read the new statute for the specifics.
In addition, the law directs the FTC to seek public comment about the Fur Products Name Guide. As part of its systematic review of all FTC rules, the agency is expanding its inquiry and asking for comments on all of its Fur Act regulations. Find out more in the Federal Register notice. The deadline is May 16th, so save some time by filing your comments online.
Looking for more? Read In-FUR-mation Alert: How to Comply with the Fur Products Labeling Act.
One important compliance note: Even though the FTC’s de minimis exemption no longer applies, it still appears in the text of the Rule pending the ongoing rulemaking process.