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Response to IAMS spin
Dissecting the public relations smokescreen

The Sunday Express lead story "Pet food cruelty exposed - Cats and dogs suffered in experiments for top brand", (May 27, 2001) refers to five of the 24 IAMS-sponsored studies which Uncaged Campaigns has uncovered.

This spring, IAMS' cruel experiments were brought to our attention when we were sent a batch of documents consisting of scientific papers describing these experiments which had been published in obscure scientific journals.

Having analysed the documents and sought additional scientific advice, we approached the Sunday Express. We had worked closely with the Express on a much more complex story - the Diaries of Despair revelations concerning Imutran's pig-to-primate organ transplant research. Through this experience, the Express has the greatest confidence in the quality of our analysis and our authoritative research. It is this expertise which helped to produce a devastating front page exposé which has educated millions of consumers about the cruel practices of IAMS and it's parent company Procter & Gamble, and confirms Uncaged Campaigns as a leading force in the struggle against animal cruelty. The Sunday Express articles and this report are based on the public statements of IAMS scientists. (The entire dossier of cruelty is summarised below.)

At least 460 animals were used in these experiments which were reported between 1991 and 2000. Other experiments have also taken place for which we have not received reports. The Iams Company was bought by Procter & Gamble (P&G) in September 1999. Please be aware that 'EUKANUBA' is also an IAMS/P&G pet food brand.

Since the exposé, IAMS spokespeople have been "spinning" furiously: they have denied that these experiments were "cruel". The company has also accused the Sunday Express of printing "inaccurate and misleading information". These smears against the Express (and, by implication, Uncaged Campaigns) are completely untrue, and represent a dishonest and desperate attempt to deflect public outrage. In contrast, we are simply presenting the truth and allowing the public to make up their own mind.

Let's look at the facts. "Cruel" is an adjective which means "causing pain or suffering" (The Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus). For IAMS to deny that their experiments have caused pain or suffering is, quite literally, incredible. The papers describe, in black and white, the infliction of kidney failure, obesity, malnutrition, liver damage, severe allergies and allergic reactions, severe diarrhoea, severe skin disorders, lesions, skin wounds etc. on conscious animals... - not to mention the slaughter of many of the animals.

IAMS' current public statements claim that certain procedures were incorrectly described by the Express article:

'A skin biopsy - which is a common diagnostic test in both human and veterinary medicine - was described in the article as "giving the animal chest wounds."

Giving an animal a routine vaccination was described as "injecting with live virus vaccines".' IAMS Customer Services

However, the skin biopsies did indeed "wound" the animals on the chest - on 12 occasions. Furthermore - and this is a key point - these biopsies were not conducted as part of a veterinary treatment for the sake of those particular puppies (as the IAMS statement tries to imply), they were conducted as part of an experiment where the dogs were exploited as tools of research.

The vaccines were indeed composed of live virus, and they were not "routine" in the sense of being for the sake of those puppies' health. Instead, they were administered specifically as part of a programme of injections to induce severe allergies.

IAMS also claim that they have now stopped conducting experiments "requiring euthanasia". We have asked for evidence of this change in practice. However, this does not address an equally appalling aspect of their research which is the infliction of pain and suffering on animals, even if the animals do not die or are not actually killed by the experiment. The fourth experiment (see section 4) described below, involving the inducement of severe allergies in puppies resulting in severe diarrhoea and skin disorders, is an example of a painful, but potentially non-lethal experiment. Furthermore, this cannot alter the fact that The Iams Company has a long history of killing animals for experimental purposes. While any reduction in the harm they inflict on animals is to be welcomed, any violence against animals is fundamentally immoral and unacceptable.

As IAMS point out, some other pet food companies do indeed also conduct painful experiments on animals - please see Pet Food Information Sheet. However, in our opinion, the IAMS vivisection experiments have involved amongst the highest levels of pain and suffering. Furthermore, since IAMS was bought by Procter & Gamble in 1999, they have been part of a multinational corporation that tests on animals during the development of cosmetics, toiletries and household products, as well as pharmaceuticals and other chemicals. Animal tests for cosmetics and toiletries have now been banned in the UK, and a similar ban for household products is likely to be implemented soon.

If IAMS' protestations of innocence were remotely true, then they would rightly be entitled to sue for libel. But they are very unlikely to sue because they know we are telling the truth (although big corporations often use unjustified legal attacks as a means of silencing critics - luckily the Sunday Express is big enough to defend itself!). The fact of the matter is that the Sunday Express article has deeply embarrassed a company that has sentenced animals to suffer and die, while claiming to be concerned about the welfare of animals - an image which is useful when trying to sell pet food. In fact, the only libel suits that would be feasible would be claims by ourselves and the Sunday Express against IAMS for calling us both liars! We have a commitment to telling the truth both as a matter of principle and also as a precaution against legal attacks from multi-billion pound companies. This is not a personal attack on IAMS - it is a crusade to expose and abolish cruelty to animals. We have exposed IAMS' cruelty in order to put pressure on them to do the right thing and stop inflicting suffering on animals and adopt ethical research methods. That is our aim.

Ironically, the Sunday Express article was edited to dilute the full extent of the cruelty and destruction inflicted on cats and dogs by IAMS, so as not to upset the paper's readers. In order to prevent the public and the media being misinformed by IAMS/P&G, we present a more detailed resumé of some of the animal experiments. We leave it for the reader to judge the honesty of a company that denies that cruelty has been inflicted...

Deciphering the latest IAMS policy statement

Annabel Fiddian Green
Fleishman-Hillard International Communications
15 June 2001

Dear Annabel

Following on from our telephone conversation Thursday lunchtime, I would like to clarify some of the fundamentally ambiguous elements of the statement reproduced below. Because of the highly equivocal nature of the statement, we find the stated intentions to achieve "complete transparency" and "to clarify" the IAMS' policy regarding animal experimentation lack credibility. We are not so naïve as to assume that Fleishman's role as PR consultants for The Iams Company involves a commitment to complete transparency and honesty - after all if IAMS were committed to such practices we doubt they would need to employ you! Nevertheless, I hope that you can give us some straightforward answers. The questions we would like you to answer appear after the statement.

8th June 2001

For complete transparency The Iams Company wishes to clarify its policy regarding animals in research for the development of pet foods.

"The Iams Company is committed to improving the health and well-being of cats and dogs through the development of superior nutrition.

"The Iams Company will not participate in any study requiring the euthanasia of cats or dogs, nor will we conduct the veterinary equivalent of any tests on cats or dogs which are not acceptable in nutritional or medical studies in people."

Since the recent acquisition of The Iams Company, Procter & Gamble has been aligning research policies emanating from our many R&D technical centres around the world. In the past, P&G's products have been for use by people.

However, since the acquisition of The Iams Company, it became necessary to recognise a new set of consumers and include cats and dogs in our overall global policy. This new statement is compatible and aligned with P&G's policy, it reflects the decision made two years ago by The Iams Company to start no further studies which required euthanasia of cats and dogs and it also demonstrates the commitment of both companies to animal welfare.

This policy applies to all research of The Iams Company in the development of pet food regardless of whether it is within our own technical centres, universities or anywhere else.

Uncaged Campaigns' Questions

  1. The title/subject of the statement refers to "policy on the development of pet foods". What does The Iams Company mean, precisely, by 'research for the development of pet foods' (in other words, what kinds of studies does this include and exclude)? Does this category of research cover all of the research conducted on animals currently or in the past supported in any way (i.e. through part or whole funding and involving IAMS employees/researchers) by The Iams Company?
  2. Can The Iams Company provide hard evidence of "the decision made two years ago... to start no further studies which required euthanasia of cats and dogs"? To the best of our knowledge, this decision was not communicated to the Sunday Express prior to the publication of the first exposé on 27 May when the paper spoke to Dr Dan Carey, IAMS' Director of Technical Communications. Naturally, this raises about the truthfulness of the references to this decision. Furthermore, we did actually request that IAMS provide evidence of this decision two weeks ago but nothing has been forthcoming.
  3. How does IAMS propose to facilitate ongoing verification of its stated policy regarding non-lethal studies on cats and dogs?
  4. From the wording of the passage referred to in the above point, we presume that ongoing studies involving killing cats and dogs were occurring within the last two years. If so, what were those studies and when did they cease?
  5. Will/does IAMS participate in any experiments (i.e. including and excluding the category of 'research for the development of pet food') involving the killing/euthanasia of cats and dogs?
  6. Have any cats or dogs died as a result of experiments that IAMS' has participated in over the last two years? (The reason I ask this is that even if we accept for the sake of argument that IAMS does not participate in experiments REQUIRING the killing of cats and dogs in the "development of pet food" category of research, such experiments may still have possibly unforeseen consequences that lead to the deaths of cats and dogs.)
  7. Will/does IAMS participate in any studies on cats and dogs that contain procedures that cause pain, suffering or illness to those animals? (For example, the severe allergy study conducted on husky puppies (Olson M. E. et al., "Hypersensitivity Reactions to Dietary Antigens in Atopic Dogs", Proceedings of 2000 IAMS Nutrition Symposium, p. 69-77) which was referred to in the Express article and in our report clearly caused pain and suffering, yet may not necessarily have required the euthanasia of those puppies.)
  8. IAMS state: ". nor will we conduct the veterinary equivalent of any tests on cats or dogs which are not acceptable in nutritional or medical studies in people." This is classic spin! The procedures performed on cats and dogs by IAMS obviously have some parallels with human medical interventions, but the fundamental difference is that IAMS' practice has traditionally involved taking healthy animals, making them sick, and then performing these tests on them. This is hardly the same as performing diagnostic or other procedures on a human patient for his/her own benefit. Maybe you could comment on this?
  9. The remainder of the statement is so vague as to be meaningless. However, I note that the statement is said by IAMS to be "compatible and aligned with P&G's policy". Does this mean that P&G conducts no lethal tests on cats and dogs whatsoever? (Although I concede that the public relations statement is compatible with P&G policy insofar as it is deliberately ambiguous in order to give the impression that the company is less cruel to animals than it really is - it is part of a pattern we have observed!)
  10. We presume that IAMS conduct lethal tests on animals apart from cats and dogs. If this is not so, or if you would like to explain the position fully, please comment.

I look forward to receiving your reply - for the sake of 'transparency' and 'clarity' (!) of course. I shall also be posting this on our website in order to facilitate public scrutiny of IAMS' position and I look forward to being able to communicate your response.

Yours sincerely
Dan Lyons
Uncaged Campaigns

On June 15, we received a fax from Gary Cunningham, "Director of External Relations" for Procter & Gamble UK. He explained that he would follow the matter up with IAMS and would "ensure" we received a response.

We had to remind Procter & Gamble about this when we protested outside their office four weeks later as part of Global Boycott Procter & Gamble Day. The following week we received a slightly updated version of the propaganda that IAMS & P&G had already been disseminating!!

These are the main points to emerge:

  1. The new version of events now refers to "animal health research" rather than the "development of pet foods."
  2. IAMS refers to a decision made by the "IAMS Scientific Advisory Board on March 8, 1999... to not consider or sponsor any new studies that required the euthanasia of dogs and cats." However, no hard evidence is provided to support this assertion, and no explanation was given as to why IAMS didn't mention this when they were first approached by the Express prior to the story, and didn't mention this when members of the public made enquiries to IAMS about their animal testing practices. Given that this position now appears to be a key plank of IAMS policy, these omissions seems a little weird!
  3. Lethal studies on cats and/or dogs continued until March 2001.
  4. IAMS "stand behind their research" and are "proud" of conducting painful and deadly experiments on cats and dogs (and other animals).
  5. IAMS now state that they will not fund experiments that result in the euthanasia of cats and dogs.
  6. IAMS did not deny that they will continue to conduct experiments on cats and dogs that could cause pain, suffering or illness.
  7. No clarification or comments were offered on our observation regarding the IAMS claim that they will not "conduct the veterinary equivalent of any tests on cats or dogs which are not acceptable in nutritional or medical studies in people." We said that this was "classic spin" and that performing tests on deliberately exploited and damaged animals in laboratory settings in order to gain data was fundamentally different to tests done on people for their individual benefit. Our view is given further confirmation when considered together with IAMS' failure to deny that they continue to perform cruel (if not deadly) tests on cats and dogs.
  8. IAMS did not challenge our presumption that other animals apart from cats and dogs will continue to be sacrificed by The Iams Company.

Lessons to learn

The response from IAMS to the exposure of their cruel and deadly tests on animals has been a valuable lesson in the devious methods of corporate information management.

IAMS' claims are transparently ambiguous and incomplete. But one of their tactics is to hope that as few people as possible notice this. Our approach is to open people's eyes and get them to read between the lines.

Another instructive element of this affair has been IAMS' fear of open debate. The overriding approach involves publishing carefully crafted statements and refusing to comment (on record at any rate) further, thereby making it harder for conscientious enquirers to ask the obvious questions. This is an approach that is also very prevalent in Government information management. Think how hard it is to get a straight answer from a politician (especially ministers or official spokespeople) to a straight question!

Another tactic employed by IAMS has involved enlisting the support of various US pro-vivisection 'animal' organisations (some of which have received money from IAMS!) to give statements of support for IAMS. Such organisations include the American Kennel Club (AKC), The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and an Animal Medical Center in New York. These statements range from the vague and irrelevant to the downright nasty and misleading (particularly the AKC) - both about the Sunday Express and Uncaged Campaigns.

IAMS's legal bullying of Israeli anti-vivisection group

Having launched an education campaign about P&G's animal testing in Israel, the Israeli Society for the Abolition of Vivisection (ISAV) received a threatening letter from IAMS' lawyers in Israel. IAMS claimed that P&G's policy: "is against product safety testing and any other form of experiments on animals." - a blatantly untrue statement. Uncaged Campaigns supplied documentation of P&G's animal testing and helped fund an advertisement entitled "The Truth Behind Procter & Gamble Products", which was published in the Sunday edition of the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. The ISAV (Israel), Uncaged Campaigns (UK) and In Defense of Animals (USA) jointly sponsored the ad which exposed the truth about P&G's practices.

P&G were forced to distance themselves from the IAMS statement. In a letter to In Defense of Animals (IDA), P&G officials claimed that the letter written by IAMS's lawyers contained "incorrect information" and that it "was never approved" by P&G.

"Once again, we see spokespersons not knowing what P&G is doing and basically saying what they know the public wants to hear, that animals are not being tortured," said Rick Bogle of IDA.

"We believe that the attorneys for IAMS will have to make a public pronouncement when the ad is released, stating that they disseminated incorrect information, and P&G will be forced to admit, once again, that they still torture and kill animals in order to make a new shade of makeup or new type of shampoo."

Please contact IAMS to let them know your disgust at these animal experiments. Phone them on 0800 426 785 or email customer.service@Iams.com.

Related Links

Original report written by Max Newton & Dan Lyons 27.05.01


Uncaged 1993-2012: This is the archived website of Uncaged. All information correct at the time of archiving - November 2012.