To date, the U.S. government has never given a legal definition to the terms “cruelty free” or “not tested on animals”. This means it’s up to the consumer to educate her or himself on the issue of animal use and abuse in industries that are not required by law to test their products on animals.
Rushing through the aisles at the supermarket, we often grab our long- time favorite shampoos, soaps and conditioners. We’ve used them for years and trusted them because they read “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals”. The fact is however, that although many companies claim to be cruelty-free, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are.
To date, the U.S. government has never given a legal definition to the terms “cruelty free” or “not tested on animals”. This means it’s up to the consumer to educate her or himself on the issue of animal use and abuse in industries that are not required by law to test their products on animals. Cosmetics, personal care, household cleaning, and office supplies are not required by law to test their products on animals- though many do. Plenty of other tests can provide accurate information to establish the safety of their products without the use of animals. In fact, animal tests are often inaccurate and demonstrate most clearly, either the difference between humans and animals- or simply the obvious e.g. repetitive shoe-shine in the eyes will cause severe inflammation and blindness). Animal testing is kept very private because of its excessively cruel nature.
Some industries are required by law to test their products on animals (pharmaceuticals, automotive and garden chemicals, food additives etc.) so when purchasing one doesn’t have the choice of cruelty free products. In these cases, it is perhaps best to avoid such products altogether.
When one is looking to purchase cruelty-free items, they must realize that many companies say that they are not testing on animals even though they are. Also, there are some products which have not been tested on animals whose companies (example: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Parent of Clairol, Aussie etc.) test on animals for their other products. Also, a contract company may test the products on animals FOR THEM and then sell the information back to the manufacturing company.
A company may also use animal based ingredients and not specify that it is animal derived (example: hyaluronic acid can be from animals or plants). There are also hidden animal ingredients in camera film and cellular phones.
Though it sounds difficult to navigate through what the company is saying versus what the company is doing there are a few watchdogs in our society that monitor the abuse of animals. I suggest looking into literature from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (www.peta.org) and the National Anti-Vivisection Society.
If you are wondering whether or not an ingredient has been derived from plants or animals you can call the manufacturer. By law they have to tell you because that type of question falls under fair labeling laws. If a product is listed as K or Kosher parve, this has no bearing on whether the product contains animal ingredients it has to do with Jewish dietary law (which isn’t vegetarian).
Some companies do not consider beeswax, buttermilk, albumin (from egg) etc. animal products so they may contain them and still label their products vegetarian. So even if a product claims to be vegetarian, it is a good idea to read the label.
Unfortunately, with many of the mainstream products (owned by public companies) the labels only say what the consumer wants to hear. It’s advisable to shop for cleaning products and cosmetics at your local healthfood store. These stores often carry brands made my smaller companies who pride themselves on being both environmentally-friendly and cruelty-free. But if you’re really attached to your long-time favorites, check out the lists that both PETA and NAVS have compiled so you can be sure that no bunny was hurt to create your favorite lip balm.
One may want to think twice about getting entangled in the unnecessary cruelty of animal testing.
Here is a list of some of the companies who test on animals:
Alberto-Culver (Alberto VO5)
Arm & Hammer
Bausch & Lomb
Benckiser (Coty, Lancaster, Jovan)
Block Drug Co. (Polident, Sensodyne, Carpet Fresh)
Bristol Meyers Squibb Co. (Aussie, Clairol, Keri, SeaBreeze)
Carter Wallace (Arrid, Lady’s Choice, Nair, Pearl Drops)
Chesebrough-Ponds (Faberge, Vaseline)
Clorox (Pine-sol, SOS, Tilex, ArmorAll)
Colgate-Palmolive Co. (Ajax, Palmolive, Fab, Speedstick, Mennen, SoftSoap)
Dell Laboratories (Sally Hansen)
Dow Brands (Glass Plus, Fantastik, Vivid)
Helene Curtis Industries (Finesse, Unilever, Suave)
Johnson and Johnson (Neutrogena)
Kimberley-Clark Corp. (Kleenex, Scott-Paper, Huggies)
Pfizer (Bain de Soleil, Plax, Visine, Desitin, BenGay)
Playtex (Banana Boat, Woolite, Jhirmack)
Reckitt & Colman (Lysol, Mop ‘n’ Glo)
Schering-.C. Johnson Plough (Coppertone)
S Wax (Pledge, Drano, Windex, Glade)
3M (Scotch tape, Post-it)
Warner Lambert (Lubriderm, Listerine, Schick)
Unilever (Lever Bros., Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden, Helene Curtis, Diversey)
It’s advisable to shop for cleaning products and cosmetics at your local healthfood store.