As the demand for cruelty-free products became more prevalent, there came an emerging need to create a consistent set of standards by which to measure if a product was in fact truly cruelty free (and we hasten to add that “cruelty free” does not necessarily mean vegan, or even vegetarian, but more on that later). In response to this need for organized standards, eight national animal welfare groups formed an alliance: the American Anti-Vivisection Society, the Animal Alliance of Canada, Beauty Without Cruelty, the Doris Day Animal League, the Humane Society of Canada, the Humane Society of the United States, the MSPCA Center for Laboratory Animal Welfare and the New England Ant-Vivisection Society. This alliance was named the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC), and from there, the CCIC unrolled its Leaping Bunny program.
In order to gain confidence from the animal welfare community as being a legitimate program, and to define what the animal welfare community wanted as the cruelty-free standard from product companies, the CCIC set forth the basic guidelines by which a company must abide in order to be Leaping Bunny certified. In order to receive the certification, the product company, whether they produce cosmetics, household products, or personal care and hygiene products, must agree that absolutely no animal testing is performed at any stage during the products development and manufacturing. Furthermore, the suppliers of the ingredients for must make the same pledge in order to ensure that the finished product is completely cruelty free. Companies looking to maintain a Leaping Bunny certification must also agree to audits completed by CCIC-approved independent auditing firms.
The Leaping Bunny program must implement such stringent guidelines due to the crafty statements that many product manufacturers make to lead the public to believe that they are truly cruelty-free. Some product companies, such as well-known cosmetic companies Avon, Estee Lauder and Benefit, will make vague statements such as, “We are against animal testing and are committed to abiding by cosmetic testing laws to ensure our products are safe.” Keep in mind that these pesky cosmetic testing laws are often in other countries and so the company will test on animals in order to be able to distribute their product in that particular country. The animal testing laws of these countries vary, and most are quite brutal and all completely unnecessary.
The downside that many conscious consumers find about the Leaping Bunny program is that it only addresses animal testing, so therefore there are many companies who are part of the program that do not test on animals, but use animal ingredients. Ingredients such as lanolin from sheep, honey from bees, milk from cows, sheep or goats, and carmine from crushed beetles may be present in these products. While in the case of lanolin and milk, consumers may like to imagine that the sheep, cows and goats are treated well, in reality there are no standard requirements regarding how the animals are treated during the years that they are producing the ingredients, nor what happens to them when they have grown too old to produce quality ingredients. For instance, sheep, used for lanolin from their wool, are commonly subject to a practice called “mulesing”, where strips of skin are removed from the non-anesthetized sheep as a means to prevent fly infestation. The Leaping Bunny program maintains that ingredient information is more readily available, so that the smart consumer can read the ingredient label to be more informed about the product they are considering purchasing. The animal testing that may or may not be occurring is much harder to know or verify, so the program prefers to focus its resources on this particular issue.
To learn more about the CCIC and the Leaping Bunny program, visit their website.