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Survey shows consumers misled over animal testing

Caged rats take campaign to Oxford Street shoppers

New research suggests many beauty companies are sitting on a ticking time bomb of consumer boycotts and falling sales if their secret animal testing of products is made public.

Animal welfare group Uncaged is bringing caged rats to London's Oxford Street this week to raise awareness of this research and highlight new evidence that animal testing is still used for many well-known high street beauty products.

The You Gov survey carried out for Uncaged, which has been campaigning peacefully against experiments on animals for almost 15 years, found that two-thirds of British women would stop buying a particular beauty product or range if they knew it had been tested on animals. The women also believed that cosmetics products and toiletries tested on animals should be banned.

However, evidence uncovered by Uncaged shows that a key ingredient in many Herbal Essences shampoos and conditioners, made by Procter & Gamble, was tested on live pregnant rats and their foetuses in the US by the company's scientists [1].

The animals were force-fed high doses of the chemical - already approved for use in beauty products - in experiments that an independent scientific expert has described as "a profligate and wasteful use of animals". All of the animals were killed at the end of the experiments.

Uncaged is campaigning to raise consumer awareness of this 'hidden' testing. Celebrities Twiggy, Bill Bailey, Michaela Strachan, Chrissie Hynde, Sue Perkins and Benjamin Zephaniah have all pledged their support.

"Consumers are being misled by the beauty companies, who claim they don't animal test their products - but they still test the ingredients, or use a third party to do testing for them," explains Dr Dan Lyons, campaigns director at Uncaged.

"Ethical shopping rose by 9% last year [2] as consumers realised how much power they have to change the way companies behave. If the British public knew about the animal testing of these products, sales would drop overnight."

Uncaged is calling on Herbal Essences manufacturer Procter and Gamble to end all animal testing of its cosmetics and household products and support the forthcoming EU ban. The organisation is also lobbying MPs to support monitoring of current legislation, which limits animal testing of products sold in the UK.

 "We want to shed light on what really goes on in the beauty industry, so consumers can make an informed choice," concludes Dan Lyons.

"If you knew more than a thousand animals had died to create your favourite shampoo, would you still want to buy it?"


Uncaged will be at London's Oxford Street at the junction with Old Cavendish Street (next to John Lewis) on Wednesday 2 July from 10am to 12 noon.

The group will then walk to the headquarters of the National Magazine Group in nearby Broadwick Street to speak to staff about the issue and request a meeting with the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. The magazine's readers chose a Herbal Essences product as the 'Can't Live Without Hair Conditioner 2007'.


1. Animal testing details

Published scientific papers show that Procter and Gamble took an already approved ingredient of Herbal Essences shampoos - butylparaben - and force-fed it to pregnant rats. The rats' unborn offspring were then removed by caesarean section and tested for toxic effects.

A leading scientific expert on animal testing has described these tests as 'a wasteful use of animals' as:

  • the tests were not required by law
  • detailed information relating to this ingredient was already available
  • the tests used doses many times higher than those humans would experience if they used the shampoo, on an animal many times smaller than a human.

In the tests, 94 pregnant animals were each was put in solitary confinement in wire cages. Each day for two weeks different doses of the chemical were poured through a tube pushed down their throats - a painful procedure that causes damage to the throat and internal organs. Some of the animals suffered poisoning after being given doses hundreds of times higher than could possibly be consumed by humans.

Just before they were due to give birth, the animals suffered a painful and terrifying death in a carbon dioxide gas chamber. Incredibly, the 1,447 baby animals survived, but they were removed from the womb and killed ('sacrificed' is the term used by P&G in its paper), dismembered and disembowelled.

2. Ethical spending

Report for the Co-operative Bank (November 2007), which found that the total ethical market in Britain grew by more than 9% in the previous year to £32.3 billion.

3. Survey

YouGov sampled the opinions of 2,141 GB adults between the dates 7th-9th May 2008. Results were weighted in order to be nationally representative.

Uncaged Campaigns 02.07.08


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