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January 11, 2012

HSI UK Tells Home Office: Don’t Break Pledge To Ban Animal Testing For Household Products

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • End animal testing for household cleaning products. sidsnapper/istock

LONDON—Humane Society International/UK is urging the Home Office to keep its commitment to ban animal testing for household cleaning products such as washing-up liquid and carpet shampoo.

The British government’s recent stakeholder consultation on a ban appears to suggest it is considering weakening its previous pledge by ending finished product testing only rather than a full ban including for ingredients testing. HSI UK is appealing for a full ban as it is unethical to continue causing animals pain and suffering for the sake of household cleaners.

Said Troy Seidle, HSI director of research & toxicology:

“It is morally unacceptable for animals to have cleaning chemicals forced down their throat, injected into their bodies or spread on their skin. The government made a clear pledge to end this animal suffering in UK laboratories. HSI is very concerned that the government may be backing away from its original pledge. Anything short of a full ban would be a slap in the face for the British public and meaningless window dressing.”

The government originally pledged to end household product testing in its publication “The Coalition: Our programme for government” [1], a pledge repeated in subsequent ministerial statements [2]. It proposed a complete end of animal testing for household products and their ingredients, such as detergents, laundry products, household cleaners, air fresheners, paints and glues. However, in its recent targeted stakeholder consultation [3], it asked for responses to a proposal to reduce the scope of a ban to cover animal testing for finished products only. Under this proposal, individual ingredients would still be subject to animal testing.

UK law contains a so-called ‘cost-benefit’ analysis whereby the suffering to the animals used must be weighed against the likely benefit of conducting the test. HSI UK argues that, for new household products, animal suffering cannot be justified and such testing [4], [5] must be stopped.

Household products that comply with the Leaping Bunny “no animal-testing” label [6] are widely available and include own-label brands by major high-street retailers [7].

Read HSI UK’s submission to the Home Office public consultation.


Editor's Notes:

 1. The Coalition: our programme for government, page 18. Published May 2010.

 2. Lynne Featherstone’s answer to a Parliamentary Question (28 March 2011), stated that the prohibition “will apply to both finished household products and their ingredients, although in practice mainly the latter are tested”.

 3. The consultation closed 30 December 2011.

 4. Home Office statistics for UK animal procedures for household products: 1,242 in 2000; 590 in 2001; 1,032 in 2002; 234 in 2003; 272 in 2004; 111 in 2005; 0 in 2006; 1 in 2007; 132 in 2008; 0 in 2009; 24 in 2010;

 5. Tests can include: skin and eye irritation, acute toxicity, mutagenicity (genetic damage), teratogencity (birth defects), carcinogenicity (cancer causing) and toxico-kinetics (the absorption, metabolism, distribution and excretion of chemicals from the body).

 6. The Leaping Bunny is the only internationally recognised standard for humane cosmetics and household products. Approved companies must neither test on animals nor buy ingredients animal tested after a fixed cut-off date. The global Leaping Bunny shopping guide is available here.

 7. Leaping Bunny household products include: Own-label ranges at Marks & Spencer and The Co-operative; method—available at Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Selfridges, Boots, Homebase, B&Q and John Lewis; Astonish—available nationwide in Wilkinson, Poundland, Trago and £-stretcher; Earth-Friendly Products, Clearspring and Bio-D—available online and in health-food shops.

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Humane Society International/UK and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organisations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — on the Web at hsiuk.org.

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