Cruelty Free International disappointment over UK government’s “empty gesture” on animal tests for household products

Cruelty Free International has criticised a UK Government statement which shows a failure to fulfil its pledge to ban animal tests for household products, and is calling for the Government to include ingredients in its definition of a household product in order to protect animals from cruel and unnecessary suffering. Astonishingly, the pledge appears to have been watered down to the point that not a single animal test may be affected.  

When it came to power in 2010, the UK’s Coalition Government pledged to ‘end the testing of household products on animals.’ The recently published revision of animal testing legislation stated that no project licences will be granted for the testing of household products on animals. However, in response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by UK Member of Parliament Kerry McCarthy asking for clarification on the definition of a household product, Home Office Minister Damien Green said as there was ‘no authoritative definition of 'household product' in UK or European legislation’, the new guidelines would apply to 'substances used in the household' with decisions being made on a case by case basis. No mention was made of any restrictions on the testing of ingredients for household products, even though on these – rather than the final household products – that testing is in reality done. UK Government figures for 2011 show that the number of tests on finished household products was zero, so a ban on this is an entirely empty gesture.  

When former Minister Lynne Featherstone was asked about the issue in 2011, the UK Government clearly stated that when the ban was introduced it would ‘apply to both finished household products and their ingredients, although in practice mainly the latter are tested.’ 

Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East said:I am incredibly disappointed that despite a clear pledge made in 2010 to ban the use of household product testing on animals, the Government has failed to provide a clear definition of what constitutes a household product. Given that the previous Minister accepted that most of these experiments take place on ingredients rather than finished products, a ban which does not explicitly include ingredients in its definition of household products is effectively worthless and will mean animals needlessly continue to suffer.

Cruelty Free International Chief Executive Michelle Thew stated: We expected the UK Government to keep its pledge and become a global leader in banning the cruel practice of testing household products on animals. This latest Government announcement is simply not good enough. This is an issue of strong public concern and we need a clear ban - not an empty gesture - that stops the testing of household products and their ingredients on animals. The UK Government should be trailblazing the end of cruel animal tests for household products as it did for cosmetics and setting a strong example for the rest of the world.  We will continue to pursue the UK Government on this important issue.”  

Cruelty Free International’s founding organisation, the BUAV, has worked for many years to move UK Government policy into line with public opinion and prevent animals suffering for household products. UK politicians have shown considerable support for a ban on cruel animal tests for cleaning products with over 140 MPs signing a motion on the matter. Further support for our work has been shown by politicians and local councils that only use products certified cruelty-free with the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny logo.


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