OK, so this subject line is a little sensational and misleading, but it got your attention. Janice Lieberman brought us a story this morning about coats with fur collars, and the fact that many of them are mislabeled in terms of what kind of fur it is. Some coats were labeled as one animal but turned out to be another, while others were said to be "faux" fur but turned out to be real. Many retailers and designers were involved in this investigation that was launched by the Humane Society.
I worked on this piece with Janice and the producer, Dana Glaser. It was a good example of a story where we had so much information and so many conflicting reports, and therefore had to be extra careful about what we reported and how we presented it. As Janice explained, the results of the lab work from the Humane Society often differed from the results by the specific designers. The Humane Society found some coats to be from an animal they call "raccoon dog" and claim to be part of the dog family. However, other experts claim that a raccoon dog is actually an animal called an "Asiatic raccoon," which is its own species and completely legal to import and sell in the US. Therefore, the confusion over whether this is, in fact, "dog" fur rages on.
However, the one conclusion that everyone agreed on was in the case of the coats labeled "faux" fur. While they disagreed on what the fur actually was, they did agree that the coats were some kind of real fur, and not "faux" as was initially reported. I was talking to Janice after the piece aired, and we both agreed that this is perhaps the most important aspect of the story. Regardless of what the animal is, there clearly is a major problem if stores are purchasing and selling coats that they are told is "faux" fur, while in fact they are not. All the retailers have said they plan to institute stricter regulations and labeling methods to ensure that consumers know what they are getting.
This piece was quite a hot topic in the green room after it aired. Other guests who were waiting and watching the segment were asking Janice for more information. Some were concerned about what they have purchased in the past, and one woman said that she's going home to look at her label and examine what is on her "faux" coat. The more conversation this story sparks, the better. Whether you are pro-fur or anti-fur, just about everyone is in favor of accurately disclosing what each individual product contains.
One final note about Janice. She brought her four-year-old son with her to the studio today. He was chattering on about a new computer game he's working on, where you get to design an apartment and pick out different appliances and furniture to complete it, all within a certain budget. There's no question that he's the son of our fearless consumer correspondent. That apple doesn't fall far from the tree.