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Best Cruelty-Free Standards

Key Points

  • Leaping Bunny & Choose Cruelty Free are the most reliable cruelty-free standards. They are stronger than others in key areas.
  • They require written documentation from a company & its suppliers that products & ingredients aren't tested on animals at any stage.
  • Companies must undergo periodic re-accreditation; Leaping Bunny also conducts regular audits.
  • Choose Cruelty Free also restricts ingredients that involve cruel practices other than animal testing; and disallows a subsidiary if the parent or a sister company tests on animals.

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How do you know if a company is free of animal testing, at all stages of development? The world standards that reliably identify cruelty-free companies are Leaping Bunny (USA, Canada, EU) and Choose Cruelty Free (Australia).

Leaping Bunny Standard

Leaping Bunny logo

Leaping Bunny is the highest cruelty-free standard in the US, Canada, and EU. The technical name in the US and Canada is Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals; in the EU, it's the Humane Cosmetics standard.

Because of the logo, the shorthand name is the Leaping Bunny standard and that's the term we use here - it's easier to remember!

To get Leaping Bunny certification, companies must meet these criteria:

  • Products and the ingredients used in those products cannot be tested on animals by anyone (including third parties) at any stage of the product or ingredient development.

  • Companies must provide written documentation of this, including from their suppliers and manufacturers.

  • Companies must undergo regular audits by Leaping Bunny to confirm the status.

Leaping Bunny is a fixed cutoff date standard. This means each company chooses the cutoff date after which they and their suppliers will halt animal testing. It can be any date up to and including the date a company applies.

For company suppliers, the cutoff applies only to the ingredients supplied to the company. Suppliers may still conduct animal testing on ingredients supplied to non-certified companies.

If an ingredient supplier starts testing an ingredient used by a company, the company must find a new source for that ingredient to remain in compliance.

Companies are audited regularly for compliance, so this is a highly reliable standard.

Choose Cruelty Free Standard

Choose Cruelty Free logo

Choose Cruelty Free is an Australian standard, but it's not limited to Australian brands. The standard is similar to the Leaping Bunny standard, but is slightly stricter.

Companies must meet the following criteria:

  • Products and the ingredients used in those products cannot be tested on animals by anyone (including third parties) at any stage of the product or ingredient development. This practice must be in place at least 5 years before the company can apply for accreditation. If a company hasn't existed for 5 years, it can become certified if its products and ingredients have never been tested on animals by anyone.

  • Ingredients may not be

    - Derived from an animal killed specifically for the extraction of that ingredient

    - Forcibly extracted from a live animal in a manner that occasioned pain or discomfort

    - Derived from any wildlife

    - A by-product of the fur industry

    - A slaughterhouse by-product of a commercially significant value (the animal was not killed specifically for the ingredient, but the ingredient was available due to the animal being killed for other purposes)

  • All parent and subsidiaries must also be certified cruelty free. For example, Urban Decay doesn't test on animals, but because it's owned by L'Oreal, it doesn't meet the Choose Cruelty Free standard.

Companies must sign a binding contract attesting that what they have said in their application is the truth about their practices. Companies are regularly re-accredited to make sure their practices continue to meet the Choose Cruelty Free standard. At any given time, about 20 companies are at some stage of the re-accreditation process.

Other Cruelty Free Lists

Other organizations have developed their own cruelty free lists, the best known being PETA's list. These lists rely on verbal confirmations from ingredient suppliers and contract manufacturers, which are not verified and so are less reliable. (There's a reason why society uses written contracts for important transactions - would you hire a major contractor without a written contract?)

Still, PETA is a good second choice. It's also the certification most brands seek, because it is better known.

At Bunny Army, we include PETA brands for a few product types if the selection of Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty Free brands is limited. With 1,000+ Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty Free brands, this problem is disappearing fast.

How the Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty Free Standards Differ

Here are the major differences between the Leaping Bunny standard and the Choose Cruelty Free standard:

  • The Leaping Bunny standard has each company set a fixed cutoff date, after which the company commits to no animal testing. The cutoff date can be any date up to the date of the application.

    The Choose Cruelty Free standard requires companies to halt testing at least 5 years before they can apply for accreditation; or if the company is less than 5 years old, the company must declare that neither it nor any of its suppliers or third parties has ever tested the products or ingredients on animals.

  • The Leaping Bunny standard requires companies to sign a contract and submit to audits.

    The Choose Cruelty Free standard requires a contract and requires companies to be re-accredited periodically to assure they continue to meet the standard.

  • The Leaping Bunny standard applies only to animal testing.

    The Choose Cruelty Free standard includes additional ingredient restrictions, based on whether the ingredient may be cruel in ways other than animal testing.

  • The Leaping Bunny standard considers independent subsidiaries of companies as separate entities who may become certified based on their own merits, so an independent subsidiary that doesn't test on animals can be certified even if the parent or a sister subsidiary tests on animals.

    The Choose Cruelty Free standard doesn't certify a subsidiary if its parent or a sister company tests on animals.

Despite these differences, both standards are strong and both provide good assurance that certified companies do not test on animals at any stage of product development.

Acknowledgments We are grateful to Leaping Bunny and to Choose Cruelty Free for reviewing the article for accuracy and for providing corrections and insights. Any remaining errors are ours alone.

Last updated: November 2017

The Leaping Bunny Logo is a registered certification mark of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

The Choose Cruelty Free logo is a registered trademark of Choose Cruelty Free, Australia.

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