Real fur passed off as fake in Vic markets

Benita Kolovos
Real fur from raccoons and raccoon dogs is being sold at Melbourne markets as fake fur

Melbourne market stalls caught selling real animal furs taken from the cruel slaughter of raccoons and passing it off as fake fur will be investigated.

Forensic tests found the stalls at Queen Victoria and South Melbourne markets are selling clothes and other items labelled as faux fur when they are in fact made from fur from raccoons and East Asian raccoon dogs.

The bulk of the falsely-labelled items come from China, which does not have legislation against animal cruelty.

Among the tested items was a fur-trimmed jacket labelled as 100 per cent polyester, but testing confirmed the hairs were from a raccoon or raccoon dog.

A pink beanie labelled 100 per cent acrylic, was also made with raccoon fur.

An 'I heart Aus' koala bag tag contained rabbit fur, but this was not labelled. A child's toy was also made from rabbit fur.

Animal Justice MP Andy Meddick teamed up with animal welfare organisation Four Paws Australia to investigate the stalls, collecting 12 items from the markets and sending them to be tested at Forensic Science and Wildlife Matters.

Both markets told AAP they would investigate the stalls.

"While fur products are not banned at South Melbourne Market, stallholders are required to provide certification that genuine fur items they stock are sourced ethically as a by-product of another industry," the market's executive manager Danielle Bleazby said on Friday.

"A recent audit in May 2019 established that all genuine fur products being sold at the market had the required certification."

Queen Victoria Market boss Stan Liacos said they "certainly do not condone the sale of any goods that do not comply with animal cruelty regulations".

A Victorian government spokeswoman said Consumer Affairs Victoria will do marketplace inspections to ensure Australian consumer laws are being adhered to.

It is unlawful to make false or misleading representations about products, with maximum penalties of $500,000 for individuals and more than $10 million for companies.

Mr Meddick is urging the state government to go one step further and ban the sale of fur.

"Victoria could lead the way and become the first state in Australia to ban the sale of cruelty fur product. Fashion has evolved past it - even the Queen has gone fur-free," he said.

Earlier this month, Buckingham Palace announced Queen Elizabeth II will buy only faux fur pieces for her personal wardrobe going forward, while several fashion houses including Gucci and Prada have committed to going fur-free.

Mr Meddick said animals in the fur trade are subjected to "unimaginable cruelty" and can be killed through gassing, anal or vaginal electrocution, have their necks broken, be skinned alive or bludgeoned to death.

State Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said the trade might need to be shut down immediately if illegal furs have been sold in Victoria.