HC Deb 25 February 2003 vol 400 cc414-5W
Mrs. Brooke

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent research her Department has(a) undertaken and (b) begun to undertake to assess the amount of fur derived from domestic animals labelled in a misleading manner for sale to the public; and if she will make a statement. [98183]

Ms Hewitt

The DTI has received professional advice from LGC Ltd. on the possibilities for undertaking DNA testing of products on sale in the UK that are alleged to contain fur of domestic animals. The advice stated that it had not yet been possible to identify a testing method that could reliably determine the specific type of fur that a product contains—i.e. whether such fur has come from a domestic animal or otherwise. I am placing copies of this advice in the Library of the House. We have asked LGC Ltd. to advise us further on the viability and costs of developing such a testing method.

We are also in discussions with other Governments who are seeking to undertake the same type of testing, to understand the approach they have taken to this problem.

There are no regulations in place requiring fur from domestic animals to be labelled as such. Where manufacturers choose to label their products, they must provide accurate information and action can be taken to prevent misleading labelling under the Trade Descriptions Act.

However, since it is not currently possible to identify products containing specifically domestic animal furs (as explained above), it is also not possible to determine when products have been mislabelled. The Government are working hard to overcome these problems to be able to determine levels of imports of these products, and to identify any labelling problems that may exist.