Unilever Eliminates Animal Testing For Lipton Teas

Pressure from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has caused a major tea company to turn a new leaf.  Tea products produced by parent company Unilever, including Lipton and PG brands, will no longer be tested on animals, the company announced in late January 2011.

The Controversy Over Unilever Testing
Unilever came under attack in 2010 when PETA publicized the company's animal testing practices.  According to PETA, PG and Lipton brand teas were tested on animals in order to make claims about the health benefits of the teas.  Disturbing reports of Unilever's animal testing included pigs who were dissected while still alive, rats who were fed tea through a tube in their throat and animals purposely infected with E. Coli bacteria.  In January 2011, Unilever announced they would immediately halt all animal testing and pursue alternative testing methods.  Their website claims the company is “committed to the elimination of animal testing.”

Unilever Makes Ethical and Sustainable Progress

Although PETA's campaign hastened Unilever's elimination of animal testing, the company claims to have been actively pursuing alternative testing methods since 2004, investing as much as €3 million in researching non-animal testing procedures.  In addition to eliminating animal testing, Unilever has made commitments to sustainability by creating a Sustainable Living Plan for the company.  By 2020, Unilever hopes to source all of its raw material from sustainable agriculture and cut its environmental footprint in half.  Currently, half of the tea used for Lipton Yellow and PG Tips brand teas comes from sources approved by the Rainforest Alliance, and in 2007 a Kenyan farm owned by Unilever was actually the first tea farm certified by Rainforest Alliance.  In July 2010, a few months before Unilever's animal testing was publicized, BITC (Business in the Community) offered Unilever the honor of “Company of the Year” based on their sustainability efforts.

Lipton teas and PG teas now join the ranks of other tea brands such as Honest Tea, Luzianne Tea, and Stash Tea that have assured PETA of their cruelty-free testing practices.  Unilever is also the parent company for brands such as Axe, Dove, Knorr, Slim-Fast, and Vaseline.  The new policy on animal testing does extend to these other Unilever products, though their website mentions animal testing may be done if “no alternatives are available.”  PETA will surely be on Unilever's tail if any other cruel animal testing procedures are attempted.

Photo Credit:  the_onlysun