At Unilever we’ve been developing and using non-animal approaches to assure the safety of our products for decades. The list of PETA-approved Unilever brands that are not tested on animals anywhere in the world continues to grow. Sunsilk haircare and Zendium toothpaste joined the roster in October, alongside a new pet care brand (Cafuné) in Brazil and our other PETA-approved brands such as Dove, Simple, Suave and Love Beauty and Planet.
We’re committed to using what we’ve learnt in this space – along with our reach and scale – to help lead efforts towards regulatory change in how chemicals and products are assessed for their safety and to bring about an end to animal testing. We partner with more than 50 leading research teams globally to develop and apply our industry-leading non-animal product safety assessment capability and we collaborate with peers, NGOs and governments to share our research.
One example is our work with the Chinese and UK governments on non-animal approaches for cosmetics safety, and we look forward to seeing regulatory shifts in China from January 2021. These will mean ‘ordinary’ cosmetics, including shampoo, face and skin cleansers, and body washes, no longer have to be tested on animals in Chinese government laboratories.
As a result of our work, we’re one of just five companies listed by PETA as ‘working for regulatory change’. In 2019, we received Humane Society International’s Corporate Consciousness Award recognising our efforts. And together with our scientific partners at the University of Cambridge, we’ve just received the Lush Science Prize for our work in this area.
We believe there is no need for animal testing to ensure that our products are safe. But recent announcements from the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) could undo the continued progress that we – and many others – so want to see.
We caught up with Julia Fentem, Head of Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC), to find out more about Unilever’s stance against animal testing, our commitment to working for a ban on animal testing for cosmetics globally, ECHA’s recent proposals and what they could mean.