In October 2021 Ethical Consumer searched for information about M&S's approach to animal testing.

The Cruelty Free International website stated that all of M&S's own-brand cosmetics were certified by Cruelty Free International and carried the Leaping Bunny Logo, meaning they had a fixed cut-off date for animal testing.

However, no information was identified in relation to non own-brand products that the company retailed.

As a result the company scored Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Animal Testing and lost half a mark in this category.

Reference: (29 June 2021)

In June 2021 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 listed its key achievements as:

100% free range eggs

RSPCA Assured fresh milk

100% traceable beef back to the farm and animal it came from. All our Beef is British.

M&S Oakham chickens have 20% more space than the industry norm, natural daylight and enrichment such as play bales

No white veal, rose veal only bred to RSPCA backed welfare standards

100% free range geese, no foie-gras

No evidence was found to suggest all meat and dairy was free range or organics. 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.

Reference: (27 June 2021)

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 June 2021 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 and viewed its 'Responsible leather sourcing policy' dated 2018. M&S appeared to be a member of the Leather Working Group (LWG) but it did not appear to have all its tanneries gold certified. Its leather sourcing policy stated that tanneries should be bronze rated under the LWG auditing protocol.
No evidence was found to suggest that M&S only used leather that was organic, upcycled leather or natural dyes.
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. Due to not only sourcing leather from LWG Gold rated tanneries, the company lost half a mark in the Pollution and Toxics.
The company also retailed many products which were made from silk. No policy could be found regarding the sourcing of the silk. It was therefore assumed to have been made using conventional silk processes in which the silk worms are killed. It lost half a mark under the Animal Rights category for this.

Reference: (27 June 2021)