In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Danone’s most recent Position Paper on Animal Testing, published in 2016. The company stated the following:

“At Danone, animal testing is conducted in order to ensure the safety and efficacy of new products. In some cases, these tests are used to understand the mechanism of action of our innovations or are part of the safety assessments required by national regulatory authorities for pre-market approvals. In the case of specialized nutrition for vulnerable populations, animal testing is still sometimes necessary to advance fundamental knowledge. All tests are carried out in respect of international animal welfare standards and when no alternative research models are available.”

The company stated that it tried to find alternatives to animal testing where possible but “where no other options are available, we carry out animal testing but only within a very strict framework….We actively seek alternative methods to limit the use of animal testing. To this end, we apply the internationally recognized “Triple R” (Replace animal testing, Reduce the number of animals being used in the tests, and Refine the testing process, or 3R).”

“To foster progress in Triple R research, Danone takes part in a number of concrete initiatives that include on-going collaboration with 3R centers in the UK and the Netherlands and with the John Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) in the US. In addition, Danone has played a key role in the recent creation of a new task force at ILSI Europe (Alternatives to Animal Testing in Food Safety, Nutrition and Efficacy Studies).”

No fixed cut off date for stopping animal testing altogether could be found.

As a result the company was marked down in the animal testing category.

Reference:

Position Paper (September 2016)

According to a press release by Cruelty Free International, dated 24/8/2015 and viewed by Ethical Consumer on 25/8/2015, Danone was one of three companies accused of cruel animal experimentation, which Cruelty Free International stated were carried out to prove ‘health benefits.’

The experiments, conducted on dogs, mice, hamsters, rats and pigs, attempted to investigate the positive health benefits of the companies’ products and to identify potential benefits that could be marketed.
The tests, which were 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 experiments. Cruelty Free International maintained 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 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. (Danone)

Reference:

Cruelty Free International exposes cruel animal experiments by major food companies to prove ‘health

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Danone’s website which confirmed that dairy was the core of Danone's business. The company sold a number of products containing meat, fish and poultry products that were not certified as organic or free range. These included: chickens, lambs, turkeys, cattle, calves, pigs, wild and farmed fish. 100% of its egg products were said to be sourced from cage-free systems.

Danone’s Animal Welfare guide was downloaded for more information about its policies and practices, which discussed the issues associated with animal welfare, how these impacted milk production and how best practice could be achieved. However, at the time of writing it did not appear that any of the company’s milk was sourced from free range or organic herds.

The company thus lost a mark under the Animal Rights and Factory Farming categories.

Reference:

Danone website (8 January 2020)

According to Harrogate's website viewed in September 2020 by Ethical Consumer, it was a sponsor of Ascot and Royal Ascot horse racing festivals.
Ascot had been criticised by www.animalaid.org.uk, and horse racing in general in the UK had also been criticised by PETA and the League Against Cruel Sports.
The company therefore lost half a mark under Animal Rights.

Reference:

www.harrogatespring.com/ (23 August 2017)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the 2018 'The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare' (BBFAW) report.

BBFAW was supported by Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection and Coller Capital, and aimed to "drive higher farm animal welfare standards in the world’s leading food businesses" by providing "an annual, objective, independent assessment of farm animal welfare management, policy commitment, performance and disclosure in food companies."

The Benchmark assessed company approaches to farm animal welfare on the basis of their published information in four core areas: Management Commitment and Policy; Governance and Management; Leadership and Innovation; Performance Reporting and Impact.
In total, 110 companies were assessed according to their published information and ranked from Tier 1 (indicating companies that have taken a leadership position), down to Tier 6 (farm animal welfare does not appear to be recognised as a business issue).

Groupe Danone was ranked as 'Tier 2: Integral to business strategy', which was up a tier since the 2017 BBFAW report.

Tier 3 in the Benchmark indicated that a company had "made farm animal welfare an integral part of its
business strategy"

As a result of being in Tier 2 Danone was not marked down. This reference is for information only.

Reference:

Ethical Consumer Lobby Group member list (7 February 2019)