In July 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Marks and Spencer website for a policy on Animal Testing.
It stated: “We don’t test any of our M&S beauty or household products on animals. But we wanted to go further than this. We guarantee that none of the individual ingredients in our beauty or household products is tested on animals either, starting from a fixed cut-off date of January 2006. This covers more than 1,200 products and, more importantly, their individual ingredients, from lavender laundry liquid to tea tree face wipes. All these products have the stamp of approval from Cruelty Free International, founded by the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection). You’ll see their ‘Leaping Bunny’ logo on pack, which means you’ll know that what you’re buying is free from animal testing.” This was considered a positive policy on animal testing.
However, Marks and Spencer was also retailing non own-brand cosmetics and other products. In the absence of a policy for non own-brand goods it was considered likely that the company was retailing some products containing ingredients tested on animals. It therefore received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its animal testing policy and lost half a mark under Animal Testing.


Questionnaire from company (1 March 2017)

In July 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the M&S website and saw that it sold meat and dairy products that were not labelled free-range or organic.

The company had an Animal Welfare Policy and Policy for Farm Animal Health and Welfare on its website. It stated that all its eggs (including egg ingredients in other products) and all geese must be free-range. It also stated that it based its animal welfare practices on the RSPCA's five freedom principles. The company had targets and was auditing and monitoring animal welfare within its supply chain. It also stated that "We have been widely recognised as a leader in farm animal welfare. We have topped the Compassion in World Farming annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare since 2013. And since 2002 we’ve received 10 awards from CIWF including their inaugural Cage-Free Award in 2017 in recognition of the steps we've taken to end the use of all cages across all relevant species in our supply chains. Sitting alongside this, we have also been awarded a number of recognitions from RSPCA including the Sustained Excellence Award in the RSPCA Good Business Awards 2011 for achievements in animal welfare." While the company had a very extensive and detailed animal welfare policy and was clearly working towards continual improvement the company was still retailing animal products that were not labelled free-range or organic. Ethical Consumer therefore assumed that these were factory farmed and M&S lost a full mark under Factory Farming.

Due to the fact that it was selling meat and dairy products with the likely use of factory farming M&S also lost a full mark under Animal Rights.


Marks and Spencer corporate website (6 February 2018)

On 31st March 2017 it was reported on The Grocer website that Marks and Spencer had admitted to failings in its supply chain after one of its dairy suppliers had allegedly "broken animal welfare laws by keeping calves in cramped conditions". The vegan pressure group Animal Equality UK was said to have revealed that calves aged 6 months were kept in pens designed for animals up to 8 weeks old at its supplier, Grange Dairy, which was based in Dorset.
The company was said to have apologised and pledged that its 40 UK dairy farms would be audited to meet RSPCA Assured Standards at minimum in future. However, it stated that it would not sever its ties with the farm.
M&S lost whole marks under Animal Rights and Factory Farming in light of this story.


M&S admits farm failings and brings in RSPCA Assured measures (31 March 2017)

In July 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Marks and Spencer website and found that it sold multiple products made out of leather. As leather was a slaughterhouse by-product, and its sale was considered to be a significant part of M&S's business, as a clothes retailer, the company lost a mark in the Animal Rights category.

Ethical Consumer searched the company's corporate website for a policy on leather.

Marks and Spencer stated in its Non-food Animal Welfare Policy: "Astrakhan / Karakul–must not be used, or any other leather/skin productswhich are the product of unnatural abortions; Leather/skin product-must not be obtainedfrom live skinning (e.g. reptiles) or live boiling;Cow hide -must not be sourced from India; All other leather must be sourced in compliance with our Responsible Leather Sourcing Policy"
Marks and Spencers Plan A leather committment stated "Products which contain leather, comply with the M&S chemical policy and Plan A leather policy, and must score Green on the M&S animal statement country assessment. The tannery completing final stage(s) of processing must also achieve at least Bronze rating and have a traceability score via the Leather Working Group auditing protocol."

Leather, as the hide of a dead animal, naturally decomposes. To prevent this decomposition the leather industry uses a cocktail of harmful chemicals including trivalent chromium sulphate, sodium sulphide, sodium sulfhydrate, arsenic and cyanide to preserve it. Tannery effluent also contains large amounts of other pollutants, such as protein, hair, salt, lime sludge and acids. These can all pollute the land, air, and watersupply making it a highly polluting industry. As a result the company lost half a mark in the Pollution and Toxics category as it did not appear to be sourcing 100% of its leather from tanneries rated Gold by the Leather Working Group (LWG).

The company also retailed many products which were made from silk. No policy could be found regarding the sourcing of the silk therefore it lost half a mark under Animal Rights category.


Non-food Animal Welfare Products Policy (2013)