The Facts Of Animal Testing For Supermarket Products

Testing on animals are scientifically flawed

Animal toxicity tests are crude, subjectively assessed and the results can vary depending upon the species, age, sex and condition of individual animals. One international study that examined the results of rat and mouse LD50 (Lethal Dose 50%) tests for 50 chemicals found that these tests were able to predict toxicity in humans with only 65% accuracy. (1) (see page 17) Dr Robert Sharpe, research chemist, states, “The LD50 for digitoxin in rats is 670 times that in cats, whilst for the antifungal substance antimycin, the LD50 in chickens is 30-80 times greater than in pigeons and mallards. The LD50 of thiourea in the wild Norway rat is 450 times greater than in the Hopkin’s stain of rat.” (2)
Manufacturers are simply asked to conduct whatever tests are appropriate, in their opinion, to establish that their cosmetics or household products are safe. Even the environmental conditions in a laboratory can affect results. The LD50 results for the same chemical can vary widely between different laboratories. It is hardly surprising then to learn that results from animal tests are often difficult to apply to humans. Many substances tested safely on animals have proven to be dangerous to humans and vice versa.

The real reasons

Animal tests were crudely developed as long ago as the 1920s and became commonplace in the 1940s. Scientists are familiar and comfortable with the animal-based techniques they have been using for years. It is always difficult to change the status quo. Companies continue to test on animals for legal protection. Animal testing is designed to protect a manufacturer against legal claims by consumers. The irony is that the defence “we have safety-tested our products on animals” only becomes relevant when that testing fails to detect a potentially dangerous substance and a consumer is injured. There is no actual legal requirement for animal testing. Manufacturers are simply asked to conduct whatever tests are appropriate, in their opinion, to establish that their cosmetics or household products are safe. The use of animals in laboratories is supported by a very large and powerful industry. It includes contract testing laboratories, the suppliers of cages, equipment, animals, and infrastructure. Alternatives to animal testing Today, many cosmetic and household product companies have turned their backs on animal testing and begun taking advantage of the many sophisticated non-animal test methods available, which range from cell and tissue cultures to computerised “structure-activity relationship” models. Human cell culture tests have been found to predict toxicity in humans with much greater accuracy than animal tests.
(1) R. Roggeband et al., “Eye Irritation Responses in Rabbit and Man After Single Applications of Equal Volumes of Undiluted Model Liquid Detergent Products,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, 38 (2000): 727-734. (2) Dr Robert Sharpe, “The Cruel Deception”.

two types of tests most commonly used in australia

LD test

LD stands for Lethal Dose – the dose of a substance that will kill a percentage of the test animals. A single dose of the test substance is usually placed directly into the stomachs of animals via a tube. Different groups of animals are given increasing doses of the test substance to see which dose will kill them. Symptoms of toxic substances include abdominal pain, cramps, convulsions, vomiting (in some species), diarrhoea, paralysis, breathing difficulties and bleeding ulcers. Rats and mice are used, but sometimes dogs and rabbits are also included.

Draize eye irritancy test

The traditional method for testing irritation and damage to the eye is the Draize test. The test substance is placed in the eyes of conscious rabbits, who are either held in stocks or have plastic collars around their neck so that they can’t rub their eyes with their paws. Researchers look for signs of redness, swelling, discharge and ulceration to determine how irritating the substance is. The rabbits are killed at the end of the test. The outer layer of the eye, the cornea, is one of the most sensitive tissues in the body. It is richly supplied with nerve endings, which is why any irritation or damage is extremely painful. Everyone knows how uncomfortable it is to get something like shampoo or onion in the eye. We quickly wash it out. In comparison, the suffering of rabbits is greater, firstly because some of the substances tested are more irritating, and secondly because the rabbits can’t wash their eyes.

Problems with irritancy tests
The first problem with these tests is that they are very, very cruel. Irritation to the skin and especially the eye can be excruciatingly painful. However, the tests are also inaccurate. In one study the same 12 substances were tested for eye irritancy in 24 well-established laboratories. Since the same substances were being tested, using the same method, and the same species of animal, you would expect scores for the degree of eye injury to be similar. On the contrary, scores varied between rabbits in the same laboratory and varied widely between laboratories. Some substances that were rated as most irritating by some laboratories were rated as least irritating by others.
There are a number of differences between rabbit and human eyes:

•rabbits have a third eyelid
•rabbits produce less tear fluid to wash away irritants
•rabbits have a more alkaline eye (human pH 7.1-7.3, rabbit pH 8.2)
•rabbits have a thinner cornea (human 0.51mm, rabbit 0.37mm).
One study compared the results of animal tests using rabbits and monkeys with information regarding accidental human exposure to products. All animal tests, especially the standard Draize test, overestimated how irritating a product was to the human eye.
An experienced toxicologist has concluded: “No single animal species has been found to model exactly for the human eye, either in anatomical terms or in response to irritation”. There are also considerable differences between human and rabbit skin. When 12 substances were tested on human and rabbit skin, results were similar only for the two most irritating products. The remaining ten products were irritating to the rabbits but not the humans. In another study, a range of household products and industrial chemicals were tested on the skin of rabbits, guinea pigs and humans. Only four of the products were non-irritating in all three species. However, 12 products were more irritating in one or both of the animal species than in humans. A further three products were less irritating in one or both animal species than in humans. The researchers concluded: “Neither the rabbit nor the guinea pig provides an accurate model for human skin. The skin responses of these animals differ in both degree and in kind from those of human skin.”

think of these next time you are patting your cat or dog

There are lots of good replacement products, that do not involve testing on animals.
If you are in doubt, look on the packaging, companies are very proud of not testing on animals so they will state it.

However if its not written " not tested on animals " the chances are it is!

Here are some products freely available that are cruelty free, look for them in your local supermarket.

Laundry needs

For the bathroom

For cleaning the house

These are just a small sample of the many brands available, just read the label. Make it cruelty free.

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