Nowadays, with the rising popularity of vegan and cruelty-free products, companies want to inform customers of their philosophy in a quickly digestible format. For this, they turn to certifying bodies which will vet them and determine whether or not they meet an acceptable standard. The certifying organization, however, may have different standards for verifying whether a product truly is cruelty-free or not, which introduces a troubling question:
Can they actually be trusted?
Let us not jump to alarmism. Yes, in some cases, they can. But done become complacent. This article will attempt to explain why.
“100% Cruelty free”, “100% vegan”, “vegan-friendly” are all things you may see on a product’s label. The trouble is that there is no regulation mandating that the statements made actually have to be factually accurate, and while checking the list of ingredients can tell you with pretty reliable accuracy if something is, say, vegan-friendly, it won’t actually communicate to you whether something is cruelty-free.
On top of this, you have to be especially careful with cosmetic and beauty products, because while many countries have regulations stipulating that food labels cannot be directly misleading, beauty products often have no such standard that they must abide by. Therefore, they have more leeway in what they can say.
Certain certified “cruelty-free” or “cruelty-free and vegan” logos are issued by governing bodies that will do no testing or assessments themselves, and will instead rely only on a short questionnaire or will ask a company to supply a written statement from the manufacturer asserting that the product in question meets a vegan-friendly or cruelty-free standard, effectively allowing the fox to guard the henhouse.
For this reason, it is best that you actively inform yourself about the certifying bodies themselves and what their practices actually are. An initial investment of time understanding what the certifying bodies are and what rubrics they employ will help you to inform yourself enough to know which logos are actually reliable, and which are cynically piggybacking on the vegan-friendly and cruelty-free movement.
Labels are still an effective tool, and a useful guideline, but keep your eyes open, and check the logo closely. Some of the more unscrupulous companies will deploy a label which vaguely resembles one from a reputable certifying body, and there is currently no legislation in place to prohibit this practice.
When you are shopping, you may find it handy to keep a printed sheet of paper with the logos from certifiers you trust, or else don’t be afraid to pull out your phone and cross-reference a label you see in store with one issued by a certifying body that you trust. Be admonished that you should always select your products with care wherever you go, and be aware of fake certification.