Are Long Established Cruelty-Free Companies Testing on Animals?
How international regulatory mandates affect companies' cruelty-free status
Dr. Pam Osenkowski, NAVS Science Advisor
The National Anti-Vivisection Society has provided guidance to consumers for decades in determining which personal care companies were testing their products or ingredients on animals—and which were not. NAVS sends out surveys to manufacturers asking them pointed questions regarding their testing policies and agreements with suppliers and then passes the information on to consumers through our online product lookup and through publication of the book, Personal Care for People Who Care, last published in 2007.
However, in recent years this issue has become more complicated as companies, including those we consider “cruelty free” in the U.S., are interested in selling their products internationally, to profit from a larger market. The problem is that companies are required to follow the regulatory rules within the country in which they are selling their products, and some countries require that animal tests be performed for safety studies on products that are imported or directly manufactured there. This means that companies that long ago gave up animal testing on their products for the U.S. or European market are required to conduct those tests on animals or allow the government to conduct those tests on their behalf. This is true of the market in China, and for products sold in Russia, Brazil and a few other major markets.
Consumers and animal advocacy groups are challenging both these regulatory requirements and the ethics of the companies choosing to market their goods in countries where testing is required. There are also ongoing efforts to change these requirements by organizations such as the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, which is working diligently to provide effective training programs in non-animal testing methodologies for foreign scientists and members of the regulatory community. They have found that by educating individuals who conduct tests and establish the animal testing rules, they can have a positive impact towards a replacement of animal tests with non-animal alternatives, though a complete change may take several years.
NAVS recognizes your desire to support companies that do not test their products or ingredients on animals. Companies that we define as cruelty-free do not test their final products or ingredients on animals and have a formal agreement with outside suppliers that they do not test on animals. Unfortunately, labeling companies as cruelty-free or testers is more difficult for all of us now due to international regulatory mandates. We will make every attempt to keep you updated on the progress being made to incorporate in vitro methods in other countries’ testing policies. NAVS intends to provide accurate information to consumers and accepts no responsibility for actions taken on reliance on information that is fraudulent, out-of-date or has changed since it was republished by NAVS.