As one of the three main overarching categories of our research, our work aims to reveal companies practice in relation to Animal Welfare standards, supporting the need for political and behavioural change on a range of animal rights-related issues.
At the end of the 20th century, nearly three million animals per year were used in UK experiments alone. Worldwide, over 100 million animals are subjected to tests. Most tests are carried out on mice, rats, guinea pigs, birds, fish and rabbits, but other animals including dogs, cats and primates will be used. The testing of products such as lipstick and washing-up liquid accounts for a tiny fraction of animal tests. The vast majority is done in the name of medical research, to test new drugs. But animals are also used in the testing of weapons, pesticides, food additives, and in psychology experiments.
All new chemical ingredients are required by law to be tested on animals. Regulatory bodies list a number of tests that must be carried out before an ingredient can be registered. Alternative, non-animal tests such as tissue and cell cultures, computer production, clinical studies and the use of skin fragments do exist for all the standard toxicity and irritancy tests. But the process of ‘validating’ these alternative methods has been obstructed, according to BUAV, by industry and regulatory bodies’ reluctance to accept these new methods.
Companies need to do two things in order to behave responsibly and show an honest code of ethics:
- Invest heavily in developing alternative, non-animal tests and lobby to get them validated
- Postpone the search for new ingredients and use the 8,000 established ingredients until non-animal alternatives to all animal tests have been validated.
Companies are penalised in the Animal Welfare column if they conduct or commission animal testing, whether for medical or cosmetic purposes. They are also penalised if they have been the subject of continuing criticism from animal rights organisations such as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
In the Ethical Health & Beauty section, a top rating is only given to those companies which have products which carry the Leaping Bunny mark as certified by Cruelty-Free International (previously BUAV). These companies operate a fixed cut-off date (FCOD), and avoid ingredients which were tested on animals after a specified year. Companies that do not conduct or commission animal testing get the middle ethical rating.
This criteria within our research rewards companies’ support for a meat-free lifestyle. Apart from the moral questions that surround killing animals for food, going vegan is better from an ecological standpoint too, since animal products are extremely inefficient to produce.
Products approved by the Vegetarian Society are awarded with the seedling showcase logo and must meet the following criteria:
- Free from animal flesh (meat, fowl, fish or shellfish), meat or bone stock, animal or carcass fats, gelatine, aspic or any other ingredients resulting from slaughter
- Contain only free range eggs, where eggs are used
- Free from GMOs
- Cruelty free – no animal testing
- No cross contamination during the production process. If the production line is shared with non-vegetarian products, thorough cleaning must be carried out before vegetarian production commences. Strict procedures must be in place to ensure packaging mix-ups and other errors do not occur
For a product to be approved by the Vegan Society, there must be no animal ingredients, animal-derived additives, animal fibres, milks, or milk derivatives; there must be no bee products, dairy products or by-products, eggs, human-derived substances, and slaughter by-products.
This category only applies to the Ethical Food & Drink and the Ethical Health & Beauty sections of the site, where a green circle indicates that one or more of the company’s food or drink products or personal care products respectively is approved by the Vegetarian Society (www.vegsoc.org) or the Vegan Society (www.vegansociety.com). (This is for tables which have been updated from 2010 onwards).