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Statement by leading animal protection groups worldwide on the acquisition of The Body Shop International by L’Oreal

Published 07/05/06

Animal protection organizations and ethical consumers worldwide have reacted with surprise at the news that L'Oreal will acquire The Body Shop International. Particular concern has been expressed over the future of The Body Shop's firm and consistent stance against animal testing. The groups issuing this statement work together in a global coalition operating those programs such as the Corporate Standard of Compassion (US) and Humane Cosmetics Standard (EU), working closely with leading cosmetics companies worldwide to end animal testing.

Compassionate consumers are aware that The Body Shop was the first international cosmetic company to be approved under the Corporate Standard of Compassion in the US and its sister, the Humane Cosmetics Standard in the EU. This international standard, managed by leading animal groups worldwide, is the only true guarantee for consumers who wish to avoid animal testing when they purchase cosmetic and personal care products.

The groups operating the international standard (signatories to this statement) have, to date, recommended Body Shop products to consumers and have worked together with The Body Shop in their campaign to drive animal testing out of the cosmetic industry. Untold animals continue to suffer and die in the development of cosmetic products worldwide. Consumers will continue to look to the international standard to guide their purchasing decisions. It is, therefore, important that issues concerning the future animal testing policy of The Body Shop and L'Oreal are clarified.

We understand that L'Oreal has agreed that The Body Shop will continue operating as an independent entity within their total corporation. Further it has been announced that the whole management and executive team will remain in place with the policies and values continuing unchanged.

Dame Anita Roddick has indicated in statements announcing the acquisition that L'Oreal will respect The Body Shop core values and that The Body Shop will continue to be a company Against Animal Testing.

L'Oreal have further stated that The Body Shop's current animal testing policy will continue to be applied across the product range and that L'Oreal will respect the identity and values of The Body Shop.

The Body Shop is currently accredited under the Humane Cosmetics Standard in the UK enabling products to be marketed as free from new animal testing in the EU and US (under the "leaping bunny" program). In order to attain such status a company has to:

  • Guarantee that no animal testing is used for finished products or ingredients in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories or suppliers;
  • Obtain assurances from their suppliers and intermediary agents that no animal testing has been conducted on their behalf after a fixed date;
  • Agree to allow independent verification of this policy and its application through an audit program.

It is our understanding, at this time, that The Body Shop will continue to meet the requirements for the international standard. The company will, therefore, remain certified under the international program. We recognize, however, that there will be many ethical consumers who are concerned about giving their financial support to an overall parent corporation, such as L'Oreal, which has not committed to ending animal testing by joining the international standard. Consumers will be made aware, therefore, that The Body Shop is now owned by L'Oreal, so that consumers can make fully informed purchasing decisions.

We recognize the multinational nature of the cosmetic industry and the need for values-driven companies to expand and gain access to global markets. It is, therefore, inevitable that small, innovative companies will continue to be targets for partnership with larger corporations. Compassionate consumers send a strong message to major corporations when they choose to buy cruelty free products.

We are pleased that L'Oreal recognizes, in their purchase of The Body Shop, the importance of the growing ethical consumer market and that the production of high quality cosmetic products need not involve animal suffering. We now look to L'Oreal to learn from The Body Shop and urge L'Oreal to end involvement with all animal testing across their product range. Animal protection organizations worldwide will continue to monitor the animal testing policy of The Body Shop and L'Oreal and will challenge those policies as and when necessary to protect the interests of animals used in product testing. We urge L'Oreal to commit to meeting the requirements of the international standard as a matter of priority.

We now look to clarify future plans for innovation, product development and data sharing and their impact upon the animal testing policies of both companies. Delegated representatives from leading animal groups will now be looking to work with L'Oreal and Body Shop management to address remaining issues so that we can continue to offer full and independent advice to consumers worldwide.

The leadership provided by The Body Shop in efforts to drive animal testing out of the cosmetics industry has been important in the success of the campaign in the EU - where a testing and sales ban is due to come into effect. We now look to L'Oreal to listen to consumers worldwide and join us in our efforts to end once and for all the suffering of animals for cosmetic products.

Chair, Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics
Chair, European Coalition to End Animal Experiments

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