Normally when we buy products we don’t check to see if any of them have caused cruelty to animals during the testing and manufacturing of the items but it seems according to a new study that consumers misunderstand what the term “cruelty-free” means anyway.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri and Oregon, found while consumers may care if the products they are buying exploit child labor or cause harm to animals the term “cruelty-free”; while a great way to appeal to consumers, is sometimes misused by companies.
This is especially prevalent in the pharmaceutical, fragrance, cosmetic, and shampoo industries as the researchers found that even though those companies used the cruelty-free label there is some animal testing done ‘somewhere’ in the manufacturing process.
The study found that in general consumers got a positive feeling about products that carried such a cruelty-free statement but this quickly changed when they were told of the ambiguous nature of the label due to the wide range of definitions that exist for cruelty-free products.
Sheehan and Lee say their findings are concerning in regard to consumer protection. They say that because they have shown that consumers are willing to spend money on products that are cruelty-free, even if they don’t understand that those products aren’t always completely free of animal testing, the door is opened for product unethical business and advertising practices. Sheehan and Lee believe there should be a legal definition for what constitutes a cruelty-free product to help protect consumers.
Why anyone should be surprised by this finding is beyond me.