Frequently asked questions
What is a Fixed Cut-off Date (FCOD) and why is it important?
The Fixed Cut-Off Date Animal Testing Policy is recognised as the benchmark for cruelty free cosmetics / toiletries and household cleaning products worldwide.
Virtually all ingredients have been animal-tested in the past and testing of new ingredients is an ongoing activity. Companies with a FCOD policy will not use any ingredient tested on animals after a specific date, and insist that their suppliers comply with this. This is why adopting a FCOD is so important - these companies are discouraging current or future animal testing. The older the FCOD, the more ethical the company. These companies deserve our support and custom.
Most suppliers trade with hundreds of companies at one time, some of which operate to a FCOD policy, and others that do not. It is because of this, some companies go one step further by committing to only use suppliers that have no connection to animal testing at all, only supplying ingredients with a FCOD. This policy is called a Supplier Specific Boycott and is in addition to a company having a FCOD, which increases the pressure on all suppliers to end testing.
Why doesn’t Naturewatch Foundation support the 5-year Rolling Rule animal testing policy?
The Five-year Rolling Rule applies to ingredients that haven’t been tested on animals only in the past 5 years. As it is not a fixed date, an animal tested ingredient may be excluded one year but included the following year. Naturewatch Foundation does not endorse this policy as it does nothing to discourage current and future animal testing.
Hasn’t animal testing of cosmetics & toiletries been banned in the UK and throughout the EU?
On 11th March 2013, the EU Cosmetics Testing Ban came into force, which means that any company wishing to sell cosmetic products within the European Union must ensure that none of
the ingredients or finished products have been tested on animals anywhere in the world since 11th March 2013.
However, even though multinational companies have to abide by the EU Cosmetics Testing Ban for products they sell within the EU, they continue to sell newly-developed products outside
of the EU, which by law require animal tests. This is because a full range of non-animal, alternative testing methods are not yet available.
By purchasing products from multinational companies who do not have a FCOD, you are effectively helping them to fund their animal testing activities for their international market.
What do companies mean when they mention a string of bans on animal testing that have come into force over the years?
1997 (UK) Ban on the use of animals to test cosmetic finished products
1998 (UK) Ban on the use of animals to test cosmetic ingredients
2004 (EU) Ban on the use of animals to test cosmetic finished products
2009 (EU) Ban on the use of animals to test cosmetic ingredients in the EU. Also any finished cosmetic products that are tested anywhere in the world are banned from being sold within the EU.
2013 (EU) On 11 March 2013, a full marketing ban came into force, preventing any finished cosmetic products or cosmetic ingredients that have been tested anywhere in the world to be sold within the EU.
Does the EU cosmetics testing ban mean all companies are now cruelty-free?
No. The EU Ban does nothing to stop multinational companies Like L’Oréal and Unilever from continuing to use animals elsewhere in the world to test newly developed ingredients in order to come up with the latest miracle cream for the personal care market outside of the EU. That means money you spend on cosmetics and toiletries from large multinational companies here in the EU could be used to fund animal testing for ingredients used in products sold outside of the EU.
Now the EU Cosmetic Testing Ban is in force, does it mean I can stop boycotting companies like L’Oréal?
No. Even with the ban now in place, multi-national companies that don’t have a Fixed Cut-Off Date like L'Oréal and Unilever will still test new ingredients on animals and sell them outside of Europe. With this in mind, the profits made on the sale of products within the EU manufactured by the likes of L'Oreal could still go towards animal testing.
So boycotting these companies is still very important. We must shout even louder and make our point very clear because multinational companies are making full use of this golden opportunity that the ban presents to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers. Don’t be fooled into believing their propaganda!
Do I still need to use the Naturewatch Foundation Compassionate Shopping Guide now the ban is in place?
Yes. Companies are continuing to develop products using animal testing for sale outside of Europe. So boycotting these companies is more important than ever in order to bring an end to animal testing for vanity products throughout the world.
Plus, remember the Parent Company issue: even if a company says it's cruelty free and it's endorsed by other organisations, if it has a Parent Company that doesn't have a Fixed Cut-Off Date in place then it won't be endorsed by Naturewatch Foundation as cruelty free. The only way you can be sure your purchases are cruelty free is by using our Compassionate Shopping Guide.
Naturewatch Foundation consistently follows the policy of the parent company. This is because, ultimately, profits made by a subsidiary could be used to fund the activities of the parent company. Therefore, even if a subsidiary company has a FCOD in place, it cannot be endorsed if the parent company does not. If a company is genuine in its commitment to help end animal testing, neither it nor its parent company will benefit from the use of recently tested ingredients. These companies have thereby pledged not to contribute to the demand for the development of new ingredients.
Are you still boycotting the Body Shop?
For almost 12 years, Naturewatch Foundation led the call for compassionate consumers to boycott The Body Shop. This was on the basis that purchases made at The Body Shop would go to profit L’Oréal. From 2006 to 2017, L’Oréal was The Body Shop’s parent company, and a known user of animal testing for the development and sale of new products outside Europe.
We are pleased to announce that, since they have been sold by L’Oréal, we have called off our boycott and are endorsing The Body Shop and its new owner Natura as cruelty-free companies in our Compassionate Shopping Guide. Read more.
If a cosmetics and toiletries product says ‘Cruelty Free' , or has a rabbit on it, does that mean it’s not been tested on animals?
If only it was that easy! Unfortunately labelling terminology is not legally defined and this is why so many companies get away with misleading statements that can make you believe the product and its ingredients have never been tested on animals.
Claims such as “We do not test on animals” are meaningless as other companies are often contracted to carry out the testing. “Against Animal Testing” tells you nothing about the specific product you are thinking of buying. “This product is not tested on animals” is also deceptive as the finished product may well not have been tested, but the ingredients could have been.
Some companies say they stopped testing on animals years ago, so why aren’t they endorsed?
These companies publish cleverly worded statements, sidestepping the key issue, using the various EU bans that have come into force over the years as a way to pull the wool over your eyes.
The simple truth is, they continue to use newly developed ingredients for their international market, which by law require animal testing. To read more about this and get a bit of help of how to read between the lines, please click here.
Why is a company previously endorsed not endorsed in the latest edition of the Naturewatch Foundation Compassionate Shopping Guide?
In the main, this is due to company acquisition. There have been a few high profile takeovers in recent years. The ones which generate the most interest are L’Oreal’s acquisition of The Body
Shop and Urban Decay, and Avon’s acquisition of Liz Earle Skincare. However, there are also a few companies that have let the animals down by dropping their Fixed Cut-Off Date in order to profit from more recently tested ingredients. Other companies claim to still be cruelty-free but refuse to confirm their Fixed Cut- Off Date with us.
Are animals tested upon for household products and their ingredients?
In 2010, the coalition government pledged to end the testing of household products and their ingredients on animals. In March 2015, the Home Office announced its intention to ban the
testing of finished household products on animals, but with a qualified ban on the testing of ingredients. This means that some ingredients will continue to be tested on animals.
Naturewatch Foundation has spent several years lobbying for the promised full ban to be implemented. This news came as a huge disappointment to us as, in practice, it is the ingredients and not the finished products that are tested on animals.
The government states that "the new policy will apply to any ingredient for which, at the time that testing on animals is carried out, more than 50% is intended to be used in a household product."
Without a full ban in place, experiments will continue to inflict pain and suffering upon defenceless animals for the sake of yet more household products being added to the shelves.
We will continue to push for the promised full ban on the testing of household products and their ingredients by the UK government.
Why isn’t the company I’m searching for in the Naturewatch Foundation Compassionate Shopping Guide?
This is because it’s an impossible task for us to include every single company and brand that exists. However, you can help us build our database by writing to them yourself. Companies are more likely to respond to customer requests to adopt a cruelty free animal testing policy, due to the threat of losing business from you. The more customers who contact them, the more likely they will consider adopting a cruelty-free policy.
- Write to cosmetic / personal care companies to request their animal testing policy. Click here for a template letter.
- Write to household cleaning companies to request their animal testing policy. Click here for a template letter.
- Write to companies that you know don’t have an animal testing policy in place to express your disappointment, and encourage them to implement a Fixed Cut-Off Date policy. Click here for a template letter
How can I lobby companies to become cruelty-free?
As a consumer, your voice is louder than you think! Please visit our Lobbying Industry page to find out how and download a sample letter to send to companies.