Animal testing

In 2015 a ban on animal testing of household products was implemented in the UK, but it only applied to ‘finished’ household products.

Rats in a laboratory.

Individual chemical ingredients that make up the products could still be legally tested on animals if undertaken to satisfy other legislation such as the EU Chemicals Regulation (REACH). 

Following its withdrawal from the EU, the UK is no longer part of the system of EU rules on chemical safety and management, therefore the UK adopted its own version of the EU’s REACH system, called UK REACH, adopting the same testing policy approach.

Whenever a new product is released onto the market, companies need to demonstrate it is safe, and guidelines for doing so often still include tests on animals.

Thankfully, scientists are developing humane alternatives to animal testing. These are as good as, if not better and more reliable than cruel animal tests, but due to some scientists being slow to trust non-animal methods, and a very complicated bureaucratic process, their use can be slowed down.

Millions of animals continue to be used in cruel chemical testing around the world. These include large numbers of mice, rats, and fish, with smaller numbers of rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and dogs being used as well. We believe this is totally unacceptable, especially when there are scientifically valid, humane alternatives available.

Animal ingredients

Animal derived ingredients are often included in household products. Some are easier to spot in the ingredients list such as: beeswax, lanolin (from sheep’s wool), and tallow (from beef fat), but others are not so instantly recognisable including:

  • Caprylic acid (from milk)
  • Glycerol (from animal fats)
  • Lecithin (from eggs, milk, or tissue)
  • Oleyl alcohols (from fish)
  • Steric acid (derived from animal fats)

Even if an ingredients list does not include any of the above exactly as written, the finished product may still include their derivatives. Many animal ingredients have variations that come with a multitude of different titles. For example, polyglycerol and glycerides are derivatives of glycerol, and oleths and Ocenol are types of oleyl alcohols.

Some of the ingredients listed above have vegan alternatives, but unless the product is marked with a ‘vegan’ label, it can be very difficult to tell whether or not it includes animal ingredients.

There is a growing number of household cleaning brands that are totally vegan and cruelty-free (not tested on animals), but some on the market can be cruelty-free but still include animal ingredients. On the other hand, a product can be labelled ‘vegan’, meaning it does not contain any animal-derived substances, but some of the ingredients may have been tested on animals.

It gets more complicated!

We can find many household cleaning products on supermarket shelves that state ‘vegan’ or ‘cruelty-free’, but what does it actually mean? The labelling refers to that particular product or brand only, so the item itself, and the brand, may indeed be vegan, but the company that owns that brand may sell factory farmed meat and dairy in other parts of their business.

The words ‘cruelty-free’ may be accurate when referring to the brand, but the company who owns the brand, may sell animal tested products abroad. For example, in China where animal testing is required by law. This means that many household cleaning brands are funding and prolonging the existence of the animal testing industry.

Let’s keep it simple!

Finding genuine cruelty-free and vegan household products has been made a lot easier with certifications from animal welfare organisations. The ones mentioned below are who the OneKind team rely on for up-to-date info and endorsements.

Naturewatch Foundation

Compassionate shopping guide magazine.

Naturewatch Foundation have produced a very handy Compassionate Shopping Guide which only endorses brands that have zero ties to animal testing.

They state that, while a specific product may not be tested on animals, it could be owned by a parent company that produces or sells other products that aren’t cruelty-free and that it’s important to understand the true picture of a company’s commitment to cruelty-free products.

The list of products contained in the shopping guide includes household cleaning products, beauty products, cosmetics & personal care, pet care and health care products. Not all those endorsed are vegan, but they have included a refined search option on their website. All vegan, organic, and eco-friendly products are clearly marked.

Cruelty Free International

Leaping bunny logo

Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny programme approves hundreds of household brands, cosmetics, and personal care items. They assure that a company has made a genuine commitment to help end animal testing. Brands must meet rigorous criteria which apply globally and extend over and above laws governing animal testing and include ongoing independent audits.

Leaping Bunny approval is dependent on a brand being able to demonstrate that it meets the strict criteria, but some of those brands may be owned or bought by larger corporations which may not hold Leaping Bunny approval. They understand that this may change how some shoppers view a brand’s ethical status, so they do indicate when a Leaping Bunny brand has a non-approved parent company.

Not all brands approved by Cruelty Free International are vegan, but they have included a refined search option on their website for products free from animal ingredients.

Search for cruelty-free products here or look for the Leaping Bunny logo while out shopping. (image)

The Vegan Society

Vegan Society logo.

The ‘Vegan’ trademark is an internationally recognised vegan product certification, established in 1990 by The Vegan Society, and has been helping make vegan products more accessible ever since. It appears on over 65,000 certified vegan products, in over 65 countries across the world, on household products, cosmetics, clothing, food, drink, and much more.

The Vegan Society check each product application against their strict criteria, working with manufacturers and suppliers across a range of fields to ensure that each product meets the highest vegan standards. The Vegan trademark is renewed on a yearly basis to ensure they have the most up to date information on all the products they certify.

In order to gain Vegan Society certification, the development and/or manufacture of the product, and its ingredients, must not involve or have involved, testing of any sort on animals conducted at the initiative of the company or on its behalf, or by parties over whom the company has effective control.

Look for the Vegan trademark on product labels and search for products on their website.

Cruelty cutter

Cruelty Cutter app.

Cruelty Cutter is a very handy app and is easy to use. Simply scan product barcodes to instantly learn if they are cruelty-free! Please be aware, Cruelty Cutter does not yet report on whether a company is vegan.

Check our resources section for a list of household and cleaning products that are firm favourites with the OneKind team.