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Animal Testing: Choose Safe, Cruelty-Free Products

by Katherine Noyes
The Challenge

Animal testing is a controversial safety measure used by many manufacturers of personal-care and household products. The intent is to avoid injury to humans (and the associated lawsuits) by first testing the safety of new products on animals.

As a consequence, millions of animals -- usually rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and mice -- are forced to experience experimental products in ways that humans may use and misuse them. For instance, to check for adverse reactions to a new suntan lotion, a laboratory technician might drip the lotion into a rabbit's eyes or force the rabbit to ingest the entire contents of a bottle of suntan lotion, to simulate what a curious human toddler might do.

As part of the experiments, many laboratory animals are euthanized so that scientists can study their internal organs to check for the impact of a product's chemicals.

Proponents of animal testing believe that these experiments offer the best way to prove that new products won't poison humans or cause dangerous irritation to our skin and eyes.

However, contrary to popular belief, animal testing is not required for new cosmetics and household products by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. In fact, animal activists hold that:

Nevertheless, many companies, due often to inertia and a fear of lawsuits, continue animal testing.

Hundreds of companies, however, do not test on animals. The European Union banned all cosmetics testing on animals, and China recently announced that it was phasing out mandatory animal testing on all domestically produced products. The more consumers who refuse to buy products that were tested on animals, the sooner animal testing of consumer products will become a thing of the past worldwide.

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  • Choose safe products manufactured by companies that don't test on animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) maintains a searchable database of companies that produce cruelty-free products. A similar cruelty-free product directory is also available from the National Anti-Vivisection Society, or you can order PETA's pocket-sized cruelty-free shopping guide.
  • Write or call companies that still test new products on animals and ask them to stop. For a list of these companies, including their addresses, visit PETA's "still does animal testing" list.

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