PETA part III: Cruelty-free communication is critical

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

PETA on cruelty-free

Related tags: European union, Cosmetics

In our final article looking into how PETA’s campaign has led to Trading Standards being asked to investigate possible illegal marketing from a host of multinational beauty names, we ask Dr Julia Baines, Science Policy Adviser at PETA UK what cruelty-free really means.

Marketing no more

On 11th March 2013, the European Commission announced that this date represented the final deadline for phasing out animal testing for cosmetic products in Europe. Since that date, cosmetics tested on animals have been banned from marketing in the EU.

However, as animal testing still remains a requirement in China, this proves problematic and confusing for consumers looking to purchase cosmetic products from European-based brands, marketed in China, that they believe to be cruelty-free.   

“Despite the EU marketing ban, consumers can’t simply assume that cosmetics new to the market from 2013 onwards are cruelty-free,” ​ Dr Julia Baines, Science Policy Adviser at PETA UK emphasised.  

As this uncertainty surrounding cruelty-free claims continues, PETA said that millions of people turn to its organisation and affiliates for accurate, up to date information on companies and policies regarding animal testing.

Cruelty-free definition

With the cruelty-free search pages on PETA.org receiving almost 8 million views a year, and in light of the UK government’s decision to consider investigating these household brands, cosmetics companies need to clarify their marketing messages.

“We urge cosmetics companies not merely to say that they’re cruelty-free but actually to be cruelty-free and join the more than 2,400 compassionate businesses that have pledged never to use animal testing,”​ continued Baines.

If a company pledges to be cruelty-free, this means that “neither they nor their ingredient suppliers conduct, commission, allow, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products – anywhere in the world – and won’t do so in the future”​, Baines explained.

Animal testing in China

“The only reason that companies would choose to conduct tests on animals today is that China still requires it,”​ highlighted Baines.

“These companies – Benefit, Bliss, Caudalie, Clarins, Clinique, Dior, Estée Lauder, Gucci (distributed by Procter & Gamble), and Revlon – have chosen profit over both ethics and science and have paid for deadly tests in order to be allowed to sell in that market,”​ Baines went on to say.

PETA emphasises the necessity of clear communication relating to the cruelty-free status of cosmetics products, and that this reflects the true meaning of the term ‘cruelty-free’.

“We urge the government and Trading Standards to ensure that consumers aren’t misled about the cruelty-free status of products,”​ concluded Baines.

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