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Monday, March 27, 2006

Selling out

I don't use this blog to rant very much about corporate evil (that's something I tend to reserve for other people's comment boxes), but today I feel a need to vent. I am not a vegetarian, but I do try to eat natural, organic, unprocessed foods and I use exclusively cruelty-free personal and household products.

My very favorite company, and the one I figured was immune to the typical parent company takeovers that so many grassroots businesses fall prey to, Tom's of Maine, has announced its partnership with Colgate-Palmolive.

This hit me hard, because it wasn't that long ago that I sent an angry letter to Colgate-Palmolive after finding out they are the parent company for Hills Science Diet pet foods. The reply I received from their "Consumer Response Manager," David Coffman, stated:

Today, at Colgate, animal testing is the exception to the rule in their product safety efforts, with more than 98% of all internal requests for product safety substantiations being met using non-animal alternatives and available databases. In 1999, Colgate declared a voluntary moratorium on all animal testing of their Personal Care Products designed for adults and the ingredients used in those products. Testing is governed by a strict set of Colgate-developed guidelines which meet or exceed legislated standards and is only conducted after all other options have been exhausted.

Note a couple of things, here:

1. "98% of all internal requests," meaning, not requests that originate from the government. Is it wrong of me to think that these requests come from a legal department that harbors fears of lawsuits if Colgate's toothpaste gets into someone's eye and there isn't animal testing to back it up? I call fire insurance on this one, boys.

2. "a voluntary moratorium on ... products designed for adults." Why not the children's products?

3. "strict Colgate-developed guidelines." Again, our government doesn't specify a need for such tests. But colgate cares so much that they test anyway.

Granted, it could be worse; Tom's could have sold out to Proctor & Gamble, who are infamous for their cruelty to animals in their Iams pet food experiments.

In response to my email, I received the following missive from Tom's of Maine:

Dear Mrs. Harridan,

Thank you for your email. I can certainly understand your strong feelings about this issue.

As you know, testing our natural products for safety and efficacy without the use of animals has been a central value for Tom's of Maine from the beginning in 1970. In 1984, we even challenged the FDA and created the first ever non-animal testing toothpaste approval process.

Our commitment to no animal ingredient and no animal testing policies, and all of our standards for natural and sustainable, are part of the agreement with Colgate. They remain intact and unchanged.

We are encouraged to see that 99% of internal requests for safety assessment at Colgate are addressed by using available databases and non-animal alternatives with a goal of eliminating all animal testing in the future. In 1999, Colgate declared a voluntary moratorium on all animal testing of its Personal Care Products designed for adults and the ingredients used in those products. Further, Colgate has committed more than a million dollars annually towards the development, validation, and scientific and regulatory acceptance of alternative non-animal testing methods of product safety research. We hope to help Colgate reach its ultimate goal of eliminating all animal testing by sharing what we've learned over the years.

We hope this information is helpful to you.

Sincerely,
Patti Murphy
Consumer Dialogue and Services


Sigh.

16 Comments:

At 1:21 PM, Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

keep up the good fight. I'm just glad I don't use any of those dog foods.

 
At 1:25 PM, Anonymous rhonda said...

I cannot believe that Tom's Of Maine is selling out. I was so disappointed when I heard that :(

 
At 1:43 PM, Blogger MrsFortune said...

Wow, what a bunch of bullshit! Obviously they don't have too high of an opinion of your intelligence (not you specifically but the average consumer I guess) and think they can placate you with a bunch of transparent double talk.

 
At 2:59 PM, Blogger Tits McGee said...

Grrr...

What a crock of shit. "Consumer dialogue," my ass.

And now I have to go find a new deoderant! Double shit.

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger wordgirl said...

Here's their new slogan.

Tom's of Maine: Piling it higher and deeper since we sold out to Colgate.

 
At 5:34 PM, Anonymous SlowGardener said...

Can someone elaborate on which cat food brands are cruelty free? We do feed our cats Hill's Science Diet, and I never considered this issue. I'm sure our cats would eat anything, so we should consider switching brands. Any suggestions?

 
At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Nixie Knox said...

I heard a bit about this on NPR last week. It must be hard for small companies to compete with big businesses like Colgate. That being said, Tom's is pretty well-known and I am sure has a pretty loyal consumer base, so I doubt that they did this to stay afloat. It is all about the money, I am sure.

 
At 9:50 PM, Anonymous TB said...

Am I jaded in thinking that everybody has a price?
It was nice while it lasted, but when it comes right down to ethics versus money, money almost always wins.

 
At 9:52 PM, Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

Thank you all for weighing in. It makes me feel less like the tiny cog in the big wheel. It's tough to feel like you can make a difference in these situations sometimes.

GG, after I found out about Science Diet, I did some research and found the website www.onlynaturalpet.com. They sell ONLY all natural, cruelty-free pet foods. Personally, I use Halo Pets Spot's Stew for the canned food, and Wysong Geriatrix for the dry (formulated for older cats and they like it the best of the foods I've tried). These foods are closest to what cats eat in the wild, also, so less filler (tends to keep digestion good) and more meat (cats are carnivores, but they can handle a little bit of veggie). This stuff is a little more expensive, but if you're already buying Science Diet, you're probably used to shelling out a bit. I offset costs by buying online via a portal that gives me a % of money back (email me if you want more info and i will happily send you links!).

 
At 10:17 PM, Blogger Mignon said...

I was going to write about this too, but I was just depressed and didn't know what to say except Damn You! Arrgh! Dammit! Shoot!

I'm going to have to stop buying Tom's now, and I really dig the ginger flavored stuff.

Stupid money and the stupid people that stupidly have to have more of it.

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger Arabella said...

I hadn't even heard about this!

I'm really into Burt's Bees these days. They have some incredible products. If you're looking for alternatives, I highly recommend them.

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger Tink said...

I HATE sell outs. Did you know that any company that agrees to sell to Walmart usually ends up making cheaper/crappier products to meet up with Walmart's demands? There were a handful of companies that refused to sell to them for that reason. I'm glad there are still businesses with standards.

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

Tink, you're too right. Have you seen the Frontline special about Wal-Mart and how its insistence on lower prices from Rubbermaid drove the company to manufacture overseas and finally sell the company? Chilling stuff.

Here's more eye-opening info about Wal-Mart: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html

 
At 2:27 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I hadn't heard about this either. I clicked on that Iam's link and holy Jesus God! We just inherited a dog and a 50 pound bag of Iam's food. There's no way I want to support Iam's now.

 
At 3:57 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

WEll, 99% just isn't good enough now is it? f&^%ers!! I NEVER buy Iams, only all natural Sensible Diet. It's weird, I'm not a vegetarian, but there are certain things I can't bring myself to eat like veal, duck or lamb.

 
At 4:04 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

Man oh man do I love you so. As a veggie and an animal freak, I can only wish the rest of the world took as much action. Or cared nearly so deeply.

YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!

 

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