Unilever ditches animal testing for tea

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Unilever, one of the world’s largest tea companies, has pledged to stop animal testing on its PG Tips, Lipton and Lyons brands.

The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims the decision follows an investigation by the animal rights group which uncovered animal tests on tea that Unilever had conducted or funded for more than a decade.

The PETA said the tests were carried out even though US or EU regulatory authorities did not require animals to be used.

PETA and its affiliates were set to launch international campaigns against the company, but following a meeting in London in January, Unilever announced an immediate worldwide end to any non-required tests on animals for tea and tea ingredients, for health claims or any other reason,​the group said.

“All the testing that PETA had uncovered is now banned,” ​the group added.

A spokesperson for Unilever told BeverageDaily.com it could not provide the information on the specifics for the tests that were carried out.

“What I can tell you is that in the past, we conducted a very limited amount of testing of tea ingredients to understand the broader benefits of tea, in one case linked to diarrhea, in another linked to diabetes,”​ said the spokesperson.

In both cases, the work was done to generate the data necessary to obtain ethics panel approval for a study in people, added the spokesperson.

Research investment

Since 2004, Unilever has invested €3m per year in a research programme on non-animal approaches to test its products.

Unilever remains committed to its ambition of eliminating animal testing by investing in alternative methods,” ​said the tea giant.

The company has also published more than 250 scientific articles on the development and application of alternative approaches.

Despite the move away from animal trials, Unilever said that some testing is still required by law or “currently unavoidable”.

The company said that when developing products, for ethical reasons it is not always possible to carry the tests directly on humans, therefore, novel ingredients may have to be tested in animals first.

In these cases the company said it aims to minimise the number of animals used.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Tea and Coffee

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