Sustainable and Organic Market Analysis & News
Animal Cruelty Standards
‘Animal cruelty’ certification ranges from standards for best practice in the humane treatment of farm animals, the protection of birds, and animal testing for cosmetics and household products among others.
The rise of the organic food movement has lead to increased awareness of issues around humane animal husbandry, factory farming and free range products. But while some organic standards make provisions for animal welfare, their primary focus on removing artificial or harmful substances from feedstuffs and raising animals ‘naturally’ i.e. without dependency on hormones and antibiotics in their diets. ‘Humane’ treatment is largely a separate issue.
Non-animal tested cosmetic, personal care and household products have been a staple of niche, ‘cruelty-free’ shoppers for many decades, but like other ethical products, are now becoming increasingly mainstream. High-profile campaigning by animal welfare organisations such as the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) have raised consumer awareness of animal testing issues and helped create a substantial market for cruelty-free products.
However, there are no stringent labelling regulations in relation to cruelty-free claims. As a consequence there are numerous ‘animal-friendly’ logos and, often misleading, statements regarding animal testing to be found on relevant products. The claim ‘not tested on animals’, for example, implies that an item is cruelty free, but it could relate to the end-product only and not its ingredients.
There is currently just one internationally-recognised cruelty-free certification scheme, symbolised by the patented ‘Leaping Bunny’ logo. It is run by the US-based Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics in North America and Canada, in Europe by member organisations of the BUAV-led European Coalition to End Animal Experiments and by the BUAV in the UK and the rest of the world.
Role of standards within the market
Humane standards add value to the end products, in the agriculture industry this can be in the form of an additional price premium charged for products sourced from humane certified farms. The increased interest in organic and free range products in recent years shows that there is a consumer appetite for ethics in animal husbandry. This is also tied in with green concerns as the potential harm to the environment has been flagged as a key concern around factory farming in western countries.
Animal testing for cosmetics has been banned within the EU since 2009. But while this prevents animal testing for cosmetics products and their ingredients to be conducted within member states, it does not prohibit the sale within the EU of products for which the animal testing was conducted outside Europe. Such a sales ban is scheduled to be introduced by 2013. However, it is increasingly likely that this ban could be delayed by anything up to ten years.
There are no restrictions on animal testing for cosmetics and household products in the US and few elsewhere in the world. Testing cosmetic and household products on animals is banned in Croatia, and the sale of animal-tested ingredients used in cosmetics and household products is scheduled to be banned in Israel in 2015.
The proposed 2013 sales and marketing ban on animal tested cosmetics in Europe will have a global knock-on effect, leading major producers who wish to continue trade within the EU to adopt verifiable cruelty-free standards. The same may eventually apply to the household products industry. Those who have already achieved certification through the Leaping Bunny programme will have competitive advantage.
Over the last few years cruelty-free products have moved from niche to mainstream with major brands seeking approval under the Leaping Bunny programme. High-profile companies who’ve signed up in recent years include Marks & Spencer, Argos, Superdrug (UK), L’Occitane, Method, Astonish and Martha Stewart Clean.
There are currently no restrictions on the testing of household products on animals although in the UK, the government has pledged to introduce a ban.
American Humane Association created the first welfare certification programme in the United States to ensure the humane treatment of farm animals.
Also based in the US, the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® programme is a certification and labelling scheme which claims to be the only animal welfare label requiring the humane treatment of farm animals from birth through slaughter.
Bird Friendly is a certification created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), which is part of the National Zoo based in Washington, D.C. It is the only 100% organic shade-grown coffee certification available and looks to protect the habitat of migratory birds.
The Humane Cosmetics Standard and the Humane Household Products Standard, represented by the Leaping Bunny logo (pictured left), are the only internationally-recognised cruelty-free standards which apply stringent criteria and an auditing system which looks at the entire supply chain of a product and requires a fixed cut-off for animal testing.
The humane standards are available to companies worldwide and groups endorsing the Leaping Bunny programme are based in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Canada, USA and UK.
The Humane Standards encourage raw material manufacturers to explore non-animal alternatives, and offer shoppers an informed choice, whilst promoting the campaign to ban animal testing.
High profile international animal welfare group PETA runs a voluntary 'cruelty free' list - which allows companies to promote their non-animal testing credentials, though it does not offer a stringent certification akin to the Leaping Bunny.
Separate animal-related conservation and sustainability of supply chain certification schemes are highlighted in ekobai’s guide to standards for Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation.