Goji berries and probiotics aren’t something we might typically associate with cruel animal experiments, but the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) is calling out major food companies for needlessly torturing animals to prove the health benefits of their products.
Companies including Unilever, Nestlé, Yakult and Danone are making news for subjecting rabbits, mice, rats and pigs to experiments that caused unnecessary suffering and death in studies that have been published in the last two years.
“The public will be shocked to learn that these well-known and familiar high street brands are involved in sickening experiments on animals. It is unacceptable that animals should be made to suffer by companies in an effort to make ‘health benefit’ claims about their products,” said the BUAV Head of Science Dr. Katy Taylor.
According to the BUAV, the experiments involved artificially inducing diseases, genetically engineering animals and injecting them with chemicals or infectious bacteria that cause pain.
A few of the experiments cited by the BUAV include:
Nestle tested the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of Goji berries by feeding mice a new concoction called Lacto-Wolfberry made of a water-soluble powder containing 50% wolfberry and 25% skimmed milk for seven days, at which point they had a chemical irritant injected directly into their their rectums to cause colon disease. Due to the pain, they stopped eating and had to be force-fed for an additional five days before they were killed and dissected.
Yakult wanted to see if it’s probiotic yogurt drink could protect humans from stomach injury so they starved rats for 20 hours, force-fed them probiotic bacteria and followed that up with some hydrochloric acid. They were left to suffer before being killed and dissected.
To test the properties of Hoodia gordonii – a plant used in weight control products – Unilever force-fed pregnant rats and mice for 25 days and killed them the day before they would have given birth to dissect them, while Danone experimented on young genetically modified mice who had been modified to develop characteristics of Alzheimer’s to test a new drink. Some of the mice died inexplicably, while they rest were killed for dissection.
Unilever was also accused of testing the infection fighting properties of Lipton tea, which it did by feeding piglets tea for six days before infecting them with E.coli to induce diarrhea. Eight piglets died, while others developed abnormalities and skin problems, reports the Belfast Telegraph.
A spokesman for Unilever told the Daily Express that the company had committed to ending animal testing for tea in 2011, while a spokesman for Nestle said it does not test conventional foods, such as coffee, tea, cereal and chocolate on animals, but that the research program that was being referenced by the BUAV was to help find nutritional approaches to managing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The BUAV argues that animals are poor models for human conditions and that because the foods being studies are already on the market they could easily have used human trials instead, yet these companies to continue to modify, poison and kill animals so they can claim some benefit to the products they’re peddling and justify it by saying they minimize their use.
The BUAV is now calling on these companies to stop using animals to test food products and ingredients by switching to humane alternatives or using available data.
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