Does cruelty-free mean that a product has not been tested on animals? Typically, this is what comes to our mind when we see something labeled “cruelty-free.” But since “cruelty-free” is not clearly defined by the law, it can be used to mean just about anything the company or brand wishes it to mean. Scary, right?
On the other hand, there are numerous companies and brands that do not market themselves as being cruelty-free, but in fact, are using non-animal product testing methods. To add to the confusion, there are also companies and brands that use the term to apply to other parts of their supply chain such as fair and ethical treatment of employees, protecting plants and/or animals through the process of product development, or products that carry no animal by-products or ingredients.
What Constitutes A Product As Cruelty-Free?
The scary truth is, the company or brands word constitutes a product as being cruelty-free. There are no laws and regulations enforced by the government to help consumers purchase products with clarity on who and what is being effected by their purchase.
A “cruelty-free” label on a product can imply:
1. Neither the product nor its ingredients have ever been tested on animals.
2. The ingredients have been tested on animals, but the final product has not.
3. The manufacturer outsourced the animal testing to a contractor, or relied on another company’s animal testing results.
4. Testing was done abroad where animal testing is required or animal rights are not valued.
5. The ingredients or the product have not been tested on animals for the past 10, 15, or 20 years (animal testing might occur in the future).
6. Neither the ingredients nor the products have been tested on animals with a certification process (Leaping Bunny Program).
How To Ensure Cruelty-Free
The only way to ensure something is cruelty-free is by buying products from companies and brands that have been certified by for example the Leaping Bunny Program which requires that no animal testing has been used in any phase of product development by the company or brand, its laboratories, or suppliers.
Take Action And Shop!
You may be wondering, what should I do to make sure I am protecting animal and human rights? Cruelty-free shouldn’t be optional, but sadly it is. The most important part is if you are unsure if something is cruelty-free when out shopping or researching a product, ask the company or brand questions. If you are not comfortable with their answer or if they can’t provide you with a clear answer, they most likely are not cruelty-free. Don’t just stop by looking at the label, ask the questions and know the answers. Then use your research and knowledge to vote with your dollar and purchase from companies and brands that are protecting animal and human rights.
We as conscious consumers have the power to pressure these companies and brands as well as government regulators to be more active on enforcing new regulations and exploring innovative testing methods.
Need some help figuring out where to find cruelty-free brands and companies? The Leaping Bunny Program has certified over 600 companies and brands such as Burt’s Bees, Method, and Seventh Generation to name a few in their program. To help you out, Leaping Bunny has also created a Compassionate Shopping Guide as a resource which can be downloaded for free on the Leaping Bunny Cruelty-Free app, or downloaded on the web! (Download the shopping guide here.)