Brands such as Aussie are hard to define as either cruelty-free or not. There are lots of factors to consider because, naturally, it’s not an easy call.
Let’s break it down…
Aussie are Certified Cruelty-Free by Peta
Aussie are certified cruelty-free by Peta, which sounds amazing at first but actually doesn’t mean much at all. To be certified cruelty-free by Peta, all a company has to do is ‘declare’ that they don’t test on animals and pay a fee. In contrast, other certifications such as the Leaping Bunny by Cruelty Free International require registered brands to actively monitor their supply chain and submit to ongoing independent audits.
Are Aussie Cruelty-Free in China?
The whole not-cruelty-free-in-China thing is getting complicated. For a long time, Chinese authorities have demanded animal testing on every product sold in Mainland China. This meant that any brand that sold their products in physical stores in China (online is fine) was not cruelty free because their products would definitely be subject to animal testing.
Peta was the first body that started certifying brands that sold in China (aka, the whole Dove fiasco) as cruelty free, by saying they had managed to work around the animal testing but – long story short – they hadn’t. For somebody not in the know, they had enough waffly excuses to maybe get away with it, but reading between the lines it was clear they weren’t putting in much effort to avoid animal testing.
This is what Peta have to say about Aussie still selling their products in Mainland China:
Working alongside PETA scientists, Aussie took careful steps to ensure that its products are never tested on animals in China—a country notorious for its animal-testing requirements for cosmetics. In China, Aussie sells only domestically manufactured non–special use products, which are not required to be tested on animals.
Having read up extensively on China’s animal testing laws (thrilling, I know), I can tell you that this is factually incorrect. There are many circumstances under which China will still subject domestically manufactured non–special use products to animal testing, and this isn’t covered at all in Peta’s statement.
I would simply clarify this as “still not cruelty free” and I always question a brand on whether or not they sell in China before I decide if they are cruelty free.
Just to make things a little more complicated, Cruelty Free International (aka, the good guys) have recently announced that they are piloting a scheme to put their certified brands’ products on the shelves in China. Whaaaaat. This obviously muddies the waters somewhat… You can expect another blog post about that soon!
Animal Testing Parent Companies:
Another important factor to consider is that the majority of brands are owned by holding companies or parent companies that can have different ethics to their own.
Aussie are owned by Procter and Gamble, who have been the subject of many ethical debates over the years, and who Peta themselves slammed for testing on animals only last year. As of 27/11/19, Peta still lists Procter and Gamble as an animal testing organisation here. And Aussie aren’t the only brand slipping through the net – Herbal Essences are another of Procter and Gamble’s brands that are listed as cruelty free on Peta’s website.
On the one hand, you could say that by purchasing from a cruelty-free brand owned by a testing company is, indirectly, funding animal testing.
On the other hand, you could say that by only purchasing from their non-animal-testing subsidiaries, you are sending a powerful message to the parent company about the consumer demand for cruelty-free processes.
(I told you it was getting complicated).
I won’t be purchasing any of Aussie’s products anytime soon, and I personally don’t class them as a cruelty-free brand. But, they’re trying, which is important, and they’re doing better than a lot of others out there.
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