McSpotlight on the
Cosmetics, Toiletries and Household Cleaners Industry
| Unilever | Procter & Gamble | Reckitt & Colman | Colgate-Palmolive | SmithKline Beecham | Gillette |

The animal-testing issue has made a big impact on the cosmetics and toiletries market in recent years. Not only are there now a large number of small, cruelty-free companies but a number of the major brands are now also promoting themselves as cruelty-free. Avon was the first to do so in 1989. In fact, the best selling brands - Boots, Avon, Max Factor, Rimmel, Revlon, Yardley and Estee Lauder - all now claim to be 'not tested on animals'. However, it is unclear just what these claims mean, especially when in some cases, the parent company is still carrying out animal tests on ingredients and on its other brands.

Nowhere in the world is animal testing of cosmetics, toiletries or household cleaners actually required by law. In most countries the law simply states that cosmetics and toiletries must be safe for human use. Critic maintain that animal test data is only used to defend the company against consumer lawsuits.

As well as being wholly inappropriate, the continued testing of these products on animals is simply unnecessary. There are many products and ingredients already available whose safety has been demonstrated by years of use on humans.

Many of the companies producing cosmetics, toiletries, and household cleaners are also active in other industries, such as the pharmaceutical, chemical or petroleum industries. These industries are closely related due to the nature of the raw materials used in the products.

These companies are frequently criticised, not only for their use of animal is tests, but also for the polluting of rivers with hazardous waste and for the inappropriate marketing of harmful products.

Examples of other companies not featured on this page, but producing cosmetics, toiletries, and household cleaners include;

  • Pfizer Inc. (Coty)
  • Heochst
  • Nestle (L'Oreal)
  • Boots
  • Eastman Kodak
  • British Petroleum

    Unilever in the McSpotlight
    Unilever: Unilever House, Blackfriars, London EC4 4BQ, UK

    Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch company with subsidaries in South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philipines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Uganda.

    Lever Brother features on Greenpeace's ' Murder on the Mersey' list of companies polluting the Mersey. According to the Registers of the UK's National River Authority and/or the River Purification Boards of Scotland, in the year to 31/3/91, the company exceeded its discharge consent three or more times. Also, between 1/9/89 and 31/8/91 the company was convicted for water pollution offences.

    Unipath has been criticised for a free offer of multivitamins (including Vitamin A) with its pregnancy testing kits. Both the Maternal Alliance and the Centre for Pregnancy and Nutrition pointed out that, in 1990, the Department of Health advised pregnant women to avoid taking dietary supplements containing vitamin A because of the risk of birth defects.

    Unilever is on the PETA list of companies that test on animals. Products tested include cosmetics, toiletries, household cleaners, foods, food additives and chemicals.

    Unilever owns Birds Eye Walls, John West and other companies manufacturing meat products.
    In 1991 the Chairman of Birds Eye Wall's revealed that the company annually imported 30,000 tonnes of beef from Brazil for burgers and other meat products.

    In June 1989, workers occupied the Gessy Lever plant in Sau Paulo, Brazil, seeking better pay and conditions. Although the company did eventually agree to a pay rise, 87 workers were sacked for taking action, and company management failed to recognise an elected factory committee.

    Procter & Gamble in the McSpotlight
    Procter & Gamble 1 Procter & Gamble Plaza, Cincinatti, Ohio 45202, USA
    PG.COM, *.COM,

    In July 1991, BUAV revealed that P&G had conducted tests on about 300 guinea pigs to determine irritancy and allergic sensitivity to sunscreen ingredients. Human data was already available. In 1992, using US government records, 'In Defence of Animals' reported that P&G had increased its use of dogs, hamsters and ferrets between 1986 and 1989. Total animal use is estimated at about 50,000 per year. P&G is subject to boycott calls from a number of animal rights groups including ; PeTA, 'In Defence of Animals', and Uncaged.

    At the end of 1991 the company was criticised for continuing to pollute the Fenholloway River with up to 50 million gallons of waste water each day from its cellulose plant in Florida. Fish in the river were being contaminated with dioxin, and water wells in the vicinity was allegedly unsafe to drink. Amazingly, all this pollution was within legal limits but state officials are said to be reviewing P&G's permit at the plant.

    During the apartheid years, Procter & Gamble had a licensing agreement in South Africa. P&G also operates in the following regimes; Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines and Turkey.

    Like most of big companies, Procter & Gamble have registered some domain names for use on the internet. However, they haven't just registered one or two - they have registered dozens and dozens.

    Reckitt & Colman in the McSpotlight
    Reckitt & Colman1 Burlington Lane, Chiswick, London W4 2RW, UK

    Reckitt & Colman tests its pharmaceutical products on animals, but, according to the company, its Household and Toiletries Division no longer undertakes animal testing, no does it use contract research houses to carry out testing on its behalf. However, in March 1994, the UKs Advertising Standards Authority found Reckitt & Colman guilty of misleading claims for Down to Earth washing-up liquid. The company claimed that the product was not animal-tested, but the ASA found that some of the ingredients are tested.

    In the year to March 1991, Reckitt & Colman exceeded its discharge consent in the UK at least once according to the NRA and/or the RPBS. The company is also listed as being a member of the British Road Federation, a lobby group that campaigns for more motorways and roads in the UK.

    During the apartheid years, Reckitt & Colman had six subsidiaries in South Africa. The company also has operations in Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

    In June 1990, 135 striking members of the chemical workers' union, CWIU, were arrested and charged with trespass at a Reckitt & Colman plant in South Africa.

    Colgate-Palmolive in the McSpotlight
    Colgate-Palmolive 300 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022, USA

    Colgate-Palmolive has animal testing undertaken for it by outside contractors. A few years ago, BUAV recently uncovered details of an experiment carried out for the company by Columbia University in which guinea pigs were locked into small plastic tubes and a strong solution of surfactant was applied for four hours a day for three days, causing cracked and bleeding skin on the animals.

    Colgate also owns a company that produces meat based pet foods.

    In March 1992 thousands of protesters took to the streets of Mexico City to protest against the polluting practices and excessive water consumption of the company's local factory. Demands for relocation of the plant to outside the city have been made by local officials amongst others and have so far been ignored. Talks with local citizens were called off in November 1991.

    Colgate has been criticised for anti-union practices against SINTRACOLPA, a union at one of its plants in Colombia. Included in the accusations are that the company offered higher remuneration and benefits to non-union members and then, in April and May 1990, suspended union leaders who had protested against these discriminatory measures.

    During the apartheid years, Colgate had a subsidiaries in South Africa and in 1990 had a 27% share in the South African detergents market. The company also has subsidiaries in; Angola, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

    SmithKline Beecham in the McSpotlight
    SmithKline Beecham Plc Beecham House, Great West Rd, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 9BD, UK

    SmithKline Beecham had fourteen subsidiaries in South Africa during the apartheid years, and has operations in Brazil, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Philippines.

    SmithKline Beecham features on Greenpeace's ' Filthy 50' list of plants licensed by the National Rivers Authority to discharge toxic waste into the rivers and sea. In the year to March 1991, SmithKline Beecham exceeded its discharge consent more than thirty times according to the NRA and/or the RPB. It was found to have breached its consent 19 times since the beginning of 1991. It was also found to have discharged cadmium, nickel and lead for which the company had no consent.

    The company its own animal testing facilities and it has been accused of unnecessary cruelty in housing its animals. In 1990, an undercover National Anti-Vivisection Society worker reported baby mice having their toes removed, beagles kept in metal pens with concrete floors and no bedding, and dogs being transported packed two in a crate.

    Gillette in the McSpotlight

    WANTED: Information on Gillette. If you have any information about Gillette, especialy in regards to their testing on animals, please contact us. PeTA seem to be the most prolific source of information regarding Gillette and until we produce a 'real' McSpotlight on Gillette, we will provide a list of links to the PeTA pages relating to Gillette.

    PETA Factsheet: Gillette Exposed: Deadly Deceit
    PETA Factsheets: Animal Experiments
    PETA 1995 Annual Review: Media
    PETA Factsheets: Animal Experiments
    Endotracheal Intubation: Killing Cats & Kittens
    Gillette Exposed: Deadly Deceit
    Animal Experimentation: Sadistic Scandal
    PETA Files Federal Complaint Against Gillette
    Companies That Test on Animals
    PETA's Online Shopping Guide

    Credits: The information on this page was taken from
    'The Ethical Consumer Guide to Everyday Shopping' published by the ECRA.