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Animals and product labelling

How do you know that the products you use are animals friendly?

Not tested on animals

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The most widely used label for food is 'dolphin friendly', found on tins of tuna.

Theoretically, it means tuna has been caught without causing harm to dolphins that swim above the fish, whether by being entangled in nets or cut by boat propellers.

Fiona Blinco from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society says this label is one that is the subject of much discussion among environmental groups.

"To the best of our knowledge there is no local accreditation scheme. We recommend consumers be wary of this label, but it's something we're actively investigating," she says.

The Greenpeace website suggests this label be considered in a wider context: "While tuna may have been fished using methods less likely to catch dolphins, it may come from overexploited tuna stocks or have been caught using methods that impact on the marine environment in other ways."

They recommends buying line-caught tuna when available.


Of course, our consumption habits have an impact on many animals. The label 'not tested on animals' is most commonly found on cosmetics and household products but there are moves in the UK to extend this to pharmaceuticals.

Cherie Wilson is a director and accreditation officer withChoose Cruelty Free (CCF).

They allow their logo to be used by companies that have filled out a document guaranteeing none of the ingredients in their products, the end mix or its packaging has been tested on animals.

Once a company vouches for this in writing, CCF adds them to their register. Companies cannot use the CCF logo until they pay a licensing fee.

Cherie says there is an element of trust at work, since they do not audit the companies on their register or pay spot visits.

However, she says, the licensing document is legally binding and if they were to receive any complaint that the company has misled them they would take them to court.

She expresses concern at the use of the label 'not tested on animals' when it's not accompanied by a recognised logo. "I'd treat that with great caution, and suspicion. It's such a rubbery term." In Australia, she says, labels on food are much more rigorously scrutinised than on cosmetics.

When purchasing imported cosmetics she suggests consumers look for the Humane Cosmetics Standard label, launched in 1998 by an international coalition of animal protection groups.