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Products tested on animals

Why are animals used?

What kinds of tests are used?

How about labelling of such products?

What can you do to aviod these products?

What products are tested on animals?
Many people are unaware that a very wide range of day-to-day personal hygiene and household products are tested on animals. Such products include: cosmetics for woman AND men, hair care products, deodorants, toothpastes, household cleaners, dish washing and laundry detergents, floor polishes, oven cleaners, pesticides, insect repellents and many products used in industry (car oils and even mobile phones!). In the case of cosmetics and cleaning agents, many if not all of the ingredients as well as the finished product are tested on animals and many ingredients are animal derived: eg. lanolin, mink oil, elastin, stearic acid, glycerin and hyaluronic acid and many, many more. For many of these substances there are now synthetic or plant-based alternatives.

Why are animal tests used?
1. To determine how toxic a substance may be if accidentally swallowed by human beings (toxicity tests)
2. To determine how irritant a product may be if it accidentally gets into human eyes, or on the skin or other sensitive part of the body (irritancy tests)
3. To determine how toxic or irritant a substance may be if used as a spray and potentially inhaled by human beings (inhalation tests)

What kinds of tests are used on animals?
(only a brief summary is provided here)

Toxicity tests
1. LD50 Test in which the experimental animals are force fed the substance until 50% of them die from the poisonous effects of the product. This could mean hundreds or in some cases, thousands of animals.
2. Fixed dose test in which a set dose is administered to an experimental group of animals until visible signs of poisoning occur, rather than death. HOWEVER, at the end of the experiment, all the animals are killed and examined.
3. Inhalation texts in which animals are forced to breathe in a substance in spray, mist or smoke form. They may have the product sprayed heavily around the head and body; they may have an inhalation mask strapped to their face or they may be put into a sealed chamber. Again, they are all killed and examined at the end of the experiment.

Irritancy tests
1. Draize test in which rabbits are held in stocks so they cannot move and have the substance dripped into their eyes over a period of up to 7 days. Rabbits do not produce tears and so their eyes cannot wash away anything that irritates their eyes. Effects of this can be eye bleeding, ulceration, swelling, discharge and even burnout of the cornea. This is a very painful test.
2. Skin irritancy in which a patch of the animals skin is shaved and the substance applied. Animals commonly used for this are rabbits and guinea pigs.

There are many alternative tests available now and hundreds of companies have changed over from animal testing models to these alternatives. Eg. tissue, cell and organ cultures; eytex and skintex tests; clinical and epidemiological studies and bacteria cultures.

In some cases, it is the law of some countries (although not in Australia) that animals be used in all safety tests. In the USA and European countries, this is still the case. Animal protection groups have been lobbying for a long time to get such laws changed and in 2002 the European Parliament is debating this very issue.

What about the labelling of such products?

Rabbits used for testingThe fact that the law still requires animal tests in some parts of the world means that many products that are imported into Australia may have misleading information on the packaging. This can also happen even if the product comes from a place where the law does NOT require animal tests but where the company producing the product still uses animal laboratories.

Packaging may indicate “not tested on animals”. However, this could mean
(a) the ingredients have not been tested on animals but the final, finished product has been tested on animals OR
(b) some or all of the ingredients have been tested on animals but the final, finished product has not a been so tested.

What YOU can do to avoid products that have been cruelly tested on animals.
In Australia, a Melbourne based company called Choose Cruelty Free produces annually a booklet called the Preferred Products List. This lists all companies that have been through the Choose Cruelty Free accreditation process and who market products in Australia. These products carry the ‘choose cruelty free’ logo.

To request a copy of the book go to

Choose Cruelty Free
(a guide to cruelty free shopping for cosmetics, hair care & personal hygiene products, household cleaners, detergents etc.)

Animal Liberation Qld - Protecting the rights of Animals.
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