April 2006 - On the tails of the recent acquisition of The Body Shop (a UK-headquartered company with a large US distribution and presence) by L’Oreal (a French-based company), the US experienced similar surprise when 84% of Tom’s of Maine was purchased by Colgate-Palmolive. Particular concern has been expressed over the future of Tom’s of Maine’s firm and consistent stance against animal testing.
The groups issuing this statement work together in the United States and form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) - the Leaping Bunny Program. CCIC is part of a global coalition operating 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 Tom’s of Maine was one of the first US cosmetics company to be approved under the Corporate Standard of Compassion and thus supported by 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 cosmetics and personal care products.
The groups operating the international standard have, to date, recommended Tom’s of Maine products to consumers and have applauded the company, and founder and CEO Tom Chappell, for the company’s commitment to never test their products or ingredients on animals. In fact, Tom’s of Maine successfully petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that its fluoride toothpastes would not be tested on animals – a significant commitment because fluoride is considered an “over the counter” drug with actual requirements for animal tests. Tom’s of Maine demonstrated their commitment to drive animal testing out of the cosmetic industry and has set important precedent for corporate challenges to the FDA as it relates to animal testing. 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 Tom’s of Maine and Colgate-Polmolive are clarified.
We understand that Tom’s of Maine will maintain its product formulas and be managed as a stand-alone subsidiary. Further it has been announced that Tom Chappell and Kate Chappell remain CEO and Vice President, respectively, with the policies and values continuing unchanged.
The Chappells have indicated in statements announcing the acquisition that Colgate-Polmolive understands and respects Tom’s of Maine’s character and values, and that Tom’s of Maine will continue to make products without animal testing.
Tom’s of Maine is currently accredited under the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals enabling products to be marketed as free from new animal testing in the US and EU (under the Humane Cosmetics Standard). 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 Tom’s of Maine 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 Colgate-Palmolive, which has not committed to ending animal testing by joining the international standard. Consumers will be made aware, therefore, that Tom’s of Maine is now partially owned by Colgate-Palmolive, 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 Colgate-Palmolive recognizes, in their purchase of Tom’s of Maine, 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 Colgate-Palmolive to learn from Tom’s of Maine and urge Colgate-Palmolive to end involvement with all animal testing across their product range. Animal protection organizations worldwide will continue to monitor the animal testing policy of Tom’s of Maine and Colgate-Palmolive and will challenge those policies as and when necessary to protect the interests of animals used in product testing.
We urge Colgate-Palmolive 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. The CCIC headquarters will be looking to work with Colgate-Palmolive and Tom’s of Maine to address remaining issues so that we can continue to offer full and independent advice to consumers worldwide.
The leadership provided by Tom’s of Maine in efforts to drive animal testing out of the cosmetics industry, particularly as it relates to their diligence in challenging the FDA for their fluoride toothpastes, has been important in demonstrating the validity of in vitro testing methods (non-animal tests) and corporate success in saving countless animal lives by perseverance and dedication to this issue. We now look to Colgate-Palmolive to listen to consumers worldwide and join us in our efforts to end, once and for all, the suffering of animals for cosmetics products.
Chair, Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics