Animals Used in Product Testing

Issues-Animals-Used-in-Product-TestingThe Issue

Each year, millions of animals are subjected to product testing to measure the safety of household and personal care items. These toxicity tests were developed in the early 1900s and have been criticized for their extreme cruelty and inability to provide reliable data that can be extrapolated to humans.


Government regulations require household and personal care products and their ingredients be “safe” for humans, animals and the environment. While the United States does not have a law requiring the use of animals for cosmetics or product testing, manufacturers are encouraged “to employ whatever testing is appropriate and effective for substantiating the safety of their products.” Currently this may include animal testing.

Certain household products are required to undergo animal testing by the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, if they are labeled as “antibacterial” agents.  Likewise, personal care products intended for therapeutic use—such as anti-dandruff shampoos—are considered “drugs” and must comply with drug testing requirements of the Food and Drug Administration, which requires product testing on animals.

Companies conduct product testing on animals for three reasons: safety, efficacy and liability. Many companies that are not specifically required by law to test their products on animals conduct product testing on animals to substantiate the safety of their products. Drugs intended for human or animal use are additionally tested for efficacy (i.e., their effectiveness in treating a condition or disease), and animal testing is a legal requirement. For many companies, animal testing is the simple and logical choice for collecting data that could limit the company’s liability to its customers in a lawsuit.

The use of animals for product testing does not ensure that products are safe for humans; it is an outdated and cruel practice. Fortunately, many non-animal testing methods are available today. Companies and government agencies should be encouraged to adopt these more humane testing methods.

How NAVS Helps

NAVS advocates for the development, validation and implementation of human-relevant testing methodologies. Science has greatly advanced development of the non-animal testing methods including in vitro and in silico methods which will provide greater prediction and better protection of human health.

NAVS also promotes cruelty-free shopping by providing a constantly updated listing of companies that do not test their ingredients or final products on animals.