Avon as transparent as a "black blanket,” says PETA VP in response to misleading China animal testing policy

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Animal testing

“We have been transparent on the issue regarding our requirement to adhere to local laws in countries where we do business,” said Avon, after it found itself in a class action lawsuit alongside Estee Lauder and Mary Kay for allegedly claiming that their products were ‘cruelty free’ while undertaking animal testing in order to sell their products in China.

In response to this, PETA vice president Kathy Guillermo said she believes the industry giant has been “as transparent as a black blanket​” on the issue in an interview with CosmeticsDesign.com USA.

Last month the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that it had removed all three organizations from its ‘cruelty free’ list that do not test on animals after it was discovered that the companies were performing animal testing. 

However, Guillermo revealed, “We actually removed Avon from the list in July 2011, but didn’t go to the media as we understood the reality of the situation and rather than attack, we wanted to work from a scientific standpoint and help Chinese officials to find an alternative to animal testing​.”  

Moreover, the vice president says the association only went public because “all three company hotlines were still telling customers that they were not testing on animals right up until the day we sent out the press release, it was dishonest and unfair​.”

Purported policy

According to Avon, its commitment not to test on animals is the same as it has been for over twenty years; ‘except where required by local law’, and that it neither conducts nor requests animal testing in order to substantiate the safety of its products.

Representatives told CosmeticsDesign.com USA, “Avon does business in over 100 countries, and some products may be required by law in a few countries to undergo additional safety testing, in these instances, we will first attempt to persuade the requesting authority to accept non-animal test data.”

When those attempts are unsuccessful, we must abide by local laws and comply with that government's testing requirements.  Nothing has changed, we have been transparent on the issue​,” they stressed.

In response to this Guillermo says, “Some companies have only recently changed its policy or added lines to it, to include the exemption to test when forced by law on animals that wasn’t originally there​.” 

The lawsuit

The class action, filed by LA firm Eagan Avenatti, alleges that the cosmetic companies “purposely defrauded consumers by falsely claiming that their products were ‘cruelty free’ while undertaking animal testing in order to sell their products in China and reap hundreds of millions of dollars in Chinese sales.”

"Avon, Estee Lauder and Mary Kay should have beenopen and honest with the American public and told the truth – that sales and profits were more important to them than refusing to conduct animal testing​,” said Co-counsel Michael Avenatti of Eagan Avenatti.

The complaint seeks to certify a class of over 1,000,000 consumers and requests over $100,000,000 in punitive and compensatory damages.

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