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Alternatives to animal testing

Our approach

lady in science lab wearing lab coat looking at a yellow test tube

We use a wide range of non-animal approaches to assess the safety of our products. Since the 1980s, our scientists have been developing and using alternatives to animal tests, e.g. computer modelling and cell culture-based experiments. We regularly present and publish our work, and continually collaborate with others to share our knowledge and apply exciting new science to assure product safety.

Our recent video above further explains our approach and we publish more information on our scientific research on a dedicated Safety and Environmental Sciences website.

Our leading-edge approach has one clear purpose: to continue to develop, apply and let others know about the research we do to guarantee that our products are safe, without the need for animal testing.

Julia Fentem, Head of SEAC

Since 2015, Unilever scientists have been partnering with experts at the US Environmental Protection Agency on collaborative research, to develop ground-breaking scientific approaches to better assess the safety of chemicals found in some consumer products, without using animal data.

We also work closely with researchers in the EU RISK-HUNT3R programme, which is driving changes in safety science away from animal testing. Our scientists regularly participate in discussions with regulators and scientists in China to increase the use of non-animal approaches to safety.

Building confidence with consumers

Our long-term investment in non-animal safety science has enabled some of our brands to be certified by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as ‘PETA-approved’, including Dove, TRESemmé, Simple, Sunsilk and Zendium. We now have over 25 brands which comply with the criteria set out in PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies Programme.

Building a case to ban all animal testing

Occasionally, across our wider product portfolio, some of the ingredients we use have to be tested by our suppliers to comply with legal and regulatory requirements in some markets; and some governments still test certain products on animals as part of their regulations. We don’t agree that animal testing is necessary to assure the safety of our products or the ingredients in them, and we work with government authorities, NGOs and our suppliers across the world to increase the use of non-animal approaches for regulatory compliance purposes. Unilever’s Responsible Partner Policy (PDF 4.45 MB) outlines our requirements from all suppliers related to animal testing.

We don’t agree with regulations that demand animal testing on existing ingredients with a long history of safe use and manufacture and so we championed the recent successful European Citizens Initiative #SaveCrueltyFreeCosmetics. We actively support the commitment by the European Commission to implement a roadmap to accelerate the full replacement of animal testing in managing the safety of chemicals in the European Union through our involvement in the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA).

Purple poster with writing We say use science. Not animals

We are also a founding member of the International Collaboration on Cosmetics Safety (ICCS) - a new global partnership of cosmetics manufacturers and suppliers, industry associations and animal protection organisations, where we work to accelerate the global adoption of animal-free cosmetic safety assessment approaches. All of this work, over more than 40 years, means that Unilever has been recognised by PETA as a company working for regulatory change (Opens in a pop-up window ).

The next generation of scientists

We also work with students – the safety scientists of the future; for example, those at the Universities of Birmingham in the UK, Wageningen in The Netherlands, and Peking in China. We want to ensure that they have access to the latest science, technology and new computational tools for assessing safety without animal testing.

We are committed to ending animal testing globally and so are our people - See some of our scientists talking about the non-animal approaches we are developing to use for making safety decisions in this video.

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