A new bill that requires all fur-trimmed fashions to be labelled with the type of animal and the country of origin, regardless of the value of the fur, has been unanimously passed by the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

The Truth in Fur Labeling Act aims to protect consumers by closing a loophole that excludes garments with fur valued at $150 or less - and leaves shoppers in the dark as to whether they are buying faux or animal fur.

"Many consumers choose to avoid buying and wearing animal fur, and they deserve to know what they're getting so they can make informed purchasing choices," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

"As a result of our investigations, we have found jackets trimmed with animal fur being sold without labels and falsely advertised as 'faux fur' across the country."

Under current law, an estimated 13% of fur garments sold in the US do not require labelling because the value of the fur is $150 or less, even if the fur is dyed pink or blue to look synthetic.

The Fur Products Labeling Act, passed by Congress in 1951, already requires seven out of every eight fur garments to be labelled with the species of animal and country of origin, and The HSUS argues that the remaining fur-trimmed garments should be required to meet the same standard.

Designers and retailers already have an obligation to label fur garments with the name of the species and country of origin if the value of the fur material is more than $150.

The new legislation would extend that same labelling standard to all fur and fur-trimmed apparel regardless of value.

The HSUS claims its own investigations found raccoon dog fur on more than two-thirds of a nationwide sample of fur-trimmed jackets purchased from well-known retailers and designers.

Of the raccoon dog fur jackets tested, not a single one properly identified the animal in advertising or labelling, instead calling it such things as faux fur, raccoon or simply not labelling it at all.

A number of retailers and designers - such as Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Buffalo Exchange, Overstock.com, Burlington Coat Factory, Ed Hardy, Victoria Bartlett, Charlotte Ronson, and Andrew Marc - have publicly supported the new legislation.

The next stage is for Congress to move to close this loophole and require proper disclosure by passing the Truth in Fur Labeling Act.