Story of the Day

Danone, Nestlé and Yakult accused of cruel animal experimentation

Aug 25

Written by:
25/08/2015 13:35  RssIcon

Campaign group Cruelty Free International has released new research which they say exposes animal experiments carried out by major food companies to prove ‘health benefits’.

The experiments, conducted on dogs, mice, hamsters, rats and pigs, attempt to investigate the positive health benefits of the companies’ products and to identify potential benefits that can be marketed.

The tests, which were all published in 2014 or 2015, involved force feeding, irradiation, forcing animals to become obese and the surgical implantation of tubes. The animals were often killed at the end of the experiment.

Cruelty Free International maintains that these harmful and unnecessary experiments were motivated by a desire to be able to make health claims about the utility of certain products in solving health issues such as obesity in humans and our companion animals. 

Dr Katy Taylor, Director of Science at Cruelty Free International said: 

“The public will be shocked to learn that these well-known and familiar high street brands are involved in sickening experiments on animals. ‘Proving’ that these products help solve artificially induced health problems in animals does not mean that they will have the same effects in humans and could be misleading to consumers. 

Furthermore, some of these tests were using products that are already on the market. We believe there to be no reason why human volunteers and consumers could not be involved in assessing the health effects of these products in real life situations.” 


Examples of the animal experiments carried out include: 


To find out if cinnamon can be used to treat obesity in humans, mice were subjected to a series of experiments. First, they were housed on their own in a cage and starved for 23 hours before being force-fed a single dose of cinnamon extract through a tube forced down their throats.

In the second experiment, 60 mice were fed a high-fat diet for ten weeks to make them obese followed by a diet containing cinnamon extract for another 36 days. At the end of the experiment, the mice were force-fed glucose before being subjected to repeat blood sampling over a two-hour period. All of the mice were killed and their organs dissected.

In another example in order to determine the impact of weight loss on obese dogs, 18 overweight Beagles were subjected to a six-month weight loss program. The dogs were fed once a day with Nestlé Purina’s low calorie weight loss diet that was calculated at 25% below their energy needs. The dogs were subjected to glucose injections and regular blood sampling throughout the experiment to study the effect of losing weight on their bodies. There is no mention of what happened to the dogs at the end of the experiment.



To investigate if consuming probiotics can protect skin from ageing, five-week-old hairless mice were force-fed probiotic bacteria one hour before being irradiated with ultraviolet light from lamps placed only 12.7cm from their skin. This procedure was repeated three times a week for 12 weeks with the dose of radiation increasing weekly for the first four weeks. The mice developed deep wrinkles and signs of photo ageing. They were then killed so that their skin could be removed and examined. 



To investigate which infant formula new-born babies find easiest to digest, eight two-week-old piglets had tubes surgically implanted into their small intestines. One piglet died shortly after the surgery and another piglet had to be excluded from the experiment because the tube started to leak. The piglets were force-fed commercially available infant formulas four times a day for six days. Fluid samples were also taken from the tubes implanted in their intestines over this period. There is no mention of what happened to the piglets at the end of the experiment. 



Companies respond

All the companies involved admitted that the experimentation took place but told the Express newspaper the following: 


“Animal testing is, rightly, a matter of public concern and should only take place where absolutely necessary to demonstrate safety as part of the regulatory authorisation process to commercialise a product.

Nestlé do not use animal tests to develop our conventional food and drink products such as coffee, tea, cereal and chocolate, which have been part of the diet for many years.

When the relevant authorities require us do this type of testing to demonstrate safety in order commercialise food with novel ingredients, or pharmaceutical products and dermatological devices, we comply with all applicable regulations and standards.

Where animal testing is necessary, we take very seriously our ethical responsibility with respect to the care of animals including proper housing, nutrition, care and humane handling.”

They added that Nestle was committed to help animals “live longer, happier and healthier lives” and that, 

"The dogs in this nutritional study are our pets and remained in our full-time care before, during and after the feeding study.

We conduct only those procedures that are appropriate for use with pet dogs and cats and that are consistent with excellence in veterinary care.”



“Nutricia Research is committed to developing safe and effective products.

We have strict policies on the use of laboratory animals, limited to ensuring the safety and efficacy of our nutritional products.

Our research is fully compliant with international standards and follows recommendations from international authorities including the WHO, ILSI and FDA.

We search for alternative methods for the study of our products and where no suitable alternative is available, we limit the use of animals to a minimum number.

We are transparent about our animal research, which we share within the scientific and medical communities.”



The studies were not used by Yakult for products sold in the UK.





More on animal rights and animal welfare from Ethical Consumer >



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