Coop Faces Charge Of Mislabeled Fur; FTC to Investigate

A second-year law student filed a complaint yesterday with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that the Harvard Coop mislabeled the fur lining on the Coop's winter parkas. Christopher W. Altenbernd filed the complaint after the Coop stated last Tuesday that the fur on the parkas was actually coyote and not wolf as the coat labels said.

Investigation Underway

The Coop's statement came in response to an investigation by the Law Enforcement Division of the Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources. Enforcement officers were investigating charges that the Coop was violating the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act by the sale of illegal wolf fur.

Kenneth A. Crossman, enforcement director of the Natural Resources Department, said yesterday that his department is testing the fur to determine whether it was coyote or wolf.

If the fur turns out to be coyote "this would be a very clear violation of the Fur Products Labeling Act," Altenbernd said. The Act, passed in 1951, states that "a fur product shall be considered misbranded if its label contains any form of misrepresentation." The Act gives the FTC authority to enforce the provision.

The act also requires that any fur "shall be designated by the true English name." Wolf is not the true English name for coyote, Altenbernd said.

FTC Will Investigate

Roberta A. Ward, public information officer for the FTC in Boston, said yesterday that the commission would investigate the complaint.

Howard W. Davis, Coop General Manager, said yesterday that he was surprised by the complaint because "the coyote is defined as the American Wolf and besides, the labeling was done by the manufacturer and we would have to defer to them."