The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comments on its Fur Labeling and Advertising Rules – commonly known as the Fur Rules – and announcing upcoming changes required by Congress. The Rules require fur manufacturers and retailers to label fur products with certain information, such as the animal’s name, the name of the manufacturer, and the garment’s country of origin. The FTC is seeking comment as part of a periodic review of its rules, and to comply with the Truth in Fur Labeling Act’s requirement to initiate a review of the Fur Products Name Guide, which lists the animal names to be used on fur product labels.
The Truth in Fur Labeling Act, signed into law in December 2010, will require two changes to the original Fur Rules, which were first adopted in 1952. As of March 18, 2011, the 2010 law eliminates the FTC’s authority to exempt fur products “of relatively small quantity or value of the fur used” from its Rules (known as the de minimis exemption), and provides a new exemption for furs sold directly by trappers and hunters to customers in certain face-to-face transactions. Finally, the 2010 law requires the FTC to start a review and seek public comment on the Name Guide.
In a Federal Register notice, the FTC announces the upcoming changes to the Fur Rules and seeks public comments on specific issues such as the continuing need for the Fur Rules, the Rules’ benefits to consumers and burdens on firms that must comply with them, and whether and why the FTC should change the Name Guide. Other questions designed to elicit public comments can be found in the Federal Register notice.
In addition, the FTC has issued a new enforcement policy concerning labels for fur products previously covered by the de minimis exemption. After March 18, the FTC will no longer have the authority to exempt products containing fur with a component value of less than $150 from the labeling requirements, as it has done in the past. To ensure that the March 18 deadline to label fur products that previously were exempt does not place an undue burden on industry, the policy states the FTC will not take any steps to enforce the fur labeling requirements against retailers covered by the soon-to-expire exemption, provided the product in question: 1) was received by March 18, 2011 and is sold by March 18, 2012; and 2) is not mislabeled under the old requirements. Copies of the enforcement policy can be found here.
The Commission vote approving the Federal Register notice announcing the proposed amendments and the related enforcement policy was 5-0. The notice can be found here, on the FTC’s website, and as a link to this press release. The proposed amendments are subject to public comment for 60 days, until May 16, 2011. Instructions on submitting written comments can be found in the Federal Register notice. Comments may be submitted electronically by clicking here.
Information on how to comply with the Fur Rules can be found here. The complete Rules and Regulations Under the Fur Products Labeling Act can be found here. (FTC File Number P074201; the staff contact is Matthew Wilshire, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2976; see related press release dated May 13, 2010)
Copies of the document mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.