TK Maxx and Amazon are on a list of shops that have sold faux-fur clothing and bags that are made from fox, rabbit and raccoon fur, according to a BBC Watchdog investigation.
Presenter Steph McGovern purchased a handbag from a branch of TK Maxx that was made from fox fur – despite the store having a no-fur policy for the past 15 years. A pair of shoes on the store's website were also found to have fluffy pompoms made from raccoon dog fur.
Similarly, Amazon sold two bobble hats made from the same material, but advertised as “faux fur”.
Both TK Maxx and Amazon said the products were no longer available.
Fur farms were outlawed in 2003 and, due to rising concern about animal cruelty, real fur is no longer seen on most UK high streets. As we reported earlier this year, the anti-fur rhetoric isn’t restricted to the high street. Designer brands Jean-Paul Gaultier and Gucci announced that they, too, would ban fur. However, it is currently not illegal to import fur from abroad.
Claire Bass, the executive director of Humane Society International in the UK, told the BBC: "Retailers need to be do more to give consumers the confidence they need to buy fake fur and not be worrying that it might actually be fox, rabbit or mink." Bass wants to see new laws brought in over imports, due to the conditions the animals are kept in.
The Watchdog tests were performed by textile analysis expert Phil Greaves. He told the programme that fur fibres are very distinctive once under the microscope.
The tests came after Chloe Salvi, from Edinburgh, said she was concerned about a bobble hat that she had bought on eBay, again described as being fake fur.
"As soon as I touched it I felt something wasn't right," she said. "I've got a cat and it reminds me of when I cuddle her. It wasn't the way a faux-fur pompom should feel."
TK Maxx told Watchdog Live: "Our buyers understand that we do not knowingly purchase items containing real fur. Despite our robust processes, an error can occasionally occur. As soon as this is brought to our attention we remove the item from sale and review the journey of that product.
"Any customer who has purchased such an item can return it to any TK Maxx store for a full refund with our most sincere apologies."
In response to the investigation, Amazon told Watchdog Live: "All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines, and those who don't will be subject to action including potential removal of their account.”