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Do you know what those cute bunny logos on your cosmetics, personal care, and household cleaning products actually mean?
You may associate the bunny logo with meaning the products and their ingredients are free from animal testing and is cruelty-free.
However, some of those “cruelty-free” bunny logos are fake and were created by brands themselves, some of which may still be testing on animals.
Can you spot the difference between unofficial or ‘fake’ cruelty-free bunny logos vs. certified cruelty-free logos accredited by a third-party organization?
Know Your Cruelty-Free Bunny Logos
Below are some unofficial ‘cruelty-free’ bunny logos we just made up. I took some cute unlicensed bunny icons I found on the web. And to make it look legit, I used my basic Photoshop skills and added some unregulated terms like “Cruelty-Free,” “Not Tested on Animals,” and “No Animal Testing” to them. If I can do this, anyone can as well.
These unofficial bunny logos mean nothing. They’re cute but remember that they’re designed and marketed by the same people trying to sell you their products.
On the other hand, the certified cruelty-free bunny logos on the right are accredited and licensed by a third-party organization. Companies must meet a list of cruelty-free standards, sign legal documents, and submit documentation to ensure compliance.
But not all certified cruelty-free logos are the same.
In this post, I’ll be examining the differences between two of the most popular cruelty-free certification programs: PETA and Leaping Bunny.
PETA has several variations of its certified cruelty-free logo. They’ve changed it several times throughout the years. The latest modification has a separate logo for companies selling their products in the EU because of the EU’s labeling laws that don’t allow companies to advertise their products as “cruelty-free.”
Companies may use different variations of PETA’s cruelty-free bunny logo but know they’re all the same and have the same standards. Except for the bunny logos that say “Vegan,” those are only designated to companies whose entire product line is free from animal-derived ingredients.
Leaping Bunny also has two variations of its cruelty-free bunny logo. One with and one without the words “Cruelty Free International” underneath.
Leaping Bunny is run by Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) and Cruelty Free International (CFI).
CCIC deals with companies based in the US and Canada. And CFI, while based in the UK, handles all other brands with headquarters outside the US and Canada.
Additionally, in 2021, Choose Cruelty Free (CCF), an Australian cruelty-free certification program, merged with Cruelty Free International. As part of the merger, the CCF accreditation program has become part of the global Leaping Bunny family as of June 2021.
Now that we’re familiar with each cruelty-free bunny logo let’s take a deep dive into the differences between Leaping Bunny and PETA’s cruelty-free certifications.
- PETA’s Cruelty-Free Standards
- Leaping Bunny’s Cruelty-Free Standards
- Parent Companies
PETA’s Cruelty-Free Standards
To apply for PETA’s cruelty-free certification, companies must fill out a short questionnaire and submit a statement of assurance signed by the CEO.
PETA’s process verifies that the company and its ingredient suppliers don’t conduct, commission, pay for, or allow any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and won’t do so in the future.
Leaping Bunny’s Cruelty-Free Standards
Leaping Bunny verifies that a company does not conduct, commission, or be a party to animal testing for its finished products, formulations, and ingredients. Also, Leaping Bunny verifies that a company does not allow animal testing by regulatory authorities in foreign countries.
What sets Leaping Bunny apart from PETA’s standards is its Supplier Monitoring System, companies must be open to independent audits, and brands must recommit annually.
Leaping Bunny’s Supplier Monitoring System requires companies to show and submit proof of documents that their suppliers comply with Leaping Bunny’s standards.
PETA does not require brands to submit documents from their suppliers as proof of compliance.
Jen from My Beauty Bunny interviewed Kathy Guillermo, Senior Vice President of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department. In her interview, she confirmed that PETA does not require documents from suppliers, and instead, they request brands to have language in place with their suppliers that mandate a no-animal testing policy.
However, in the past, Suzi from Cruelty-Free Kitty exposed a PETA-certified brand that told her they were unable to confirm all of their suppliers don’t test on animals.
Leaping Bunny-certified brands must be open to independent audits to ensure their supply chain management system is free of animal testing. Leaping Bunny may require brands to be audited to confirm that a certified company is truthful about purchasing ingredients from the corresponding cruelty-free suppliers they claimed when applying.
PETA does not conduct independent audits to ensure companies and their suppliers comply with its cruelty-free standards.
Without audits and suppliers’ documents to prove compliance, the legitimacy of PETA’s standards depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements made by the brand.
Leaping Bunny requires companies to recommit to its cruelty-free standards annually. Companies that don’t recommit are removed from Leaping Bunny’s directory. In addition, Leaping Bunny publishes a rolling list of brands that have chosen to recommit and those that did not.
PETA does not require companies to go through a formal renewal process. And PETA does not have a publicly available list of brands no longer certified or removed from their cruelty-free directory.
It used to be that companies that sold their products in China had to test on animals. However, recent updates to China’s animal testing laws have made it possible, under specific circumstances, for brands to register to sell domestically in China and avoid animal testing.
Here is how PETA and Leaping Bunny handle certified companies entering the Chinese marketplace.
Does PETA Allow Brands to Sell in China?
In the past, PETA removed several brands from its cruelty-free list when PETA investigations caught them selling in China, where at the time, animal testing was required for all cosmetics sold in China.
Now, PETA is working with brands like Dove, Herbal Essences, Wet n Wild, First Aid Beauty, and Physicians Formula to allow them to manufacture and sell their ‘general cosmetics’ in mainland China while remaining PETA-certified cruelty-free.
“In order to be eligible for inclusion on PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free list, companies that sell in China may only sell domestically manufactured (made in China), non-special use cosmetics. They must commit to not introducing any products that would require tests on animals; to withdrawing their products from the region rather than allowing any tests on animals, should they become required; and to informing Chinese authorities of this policy to ensure that they are notified and can withdraw from the market in the unlikely event that animal tests become required for their products.” – PETA
Does Leaping Bunny Allow Brands to Sell in China?
Previously, Leaping Bunny did not allow certified brands to sell their products in stores in mainland China. However, in 2018, Leaping Bunny launched its China Pilot Project, allowing select brands to sell in China under their supervision. The project was only available to EU brands until now; Leaping Bunny just launched its China Qualification Program for certified companies in the US and Canada to sell in China and avoid animal testing.
Leaping Bunny China Qualification Program
“Leaping Bunny is partnering with trusted regulatory experts Knudsen&CRC, based in Shanghai, China, to ensure a company’s registration dossier does not include animal testing, along with post-market monitoring after sales commence. Companies will have to meet extensive registration criteria and will need to successfully complete both a Pre-Market Audit and a series of Post-Market Audits, conducted by Knudsen&CRC, which will screen for animal testing. Further, companies are required to sign an agreement promising to recall products rather than allow any animal testing, should the Chinese government require it for some reason.” – Leaping Bunny
Cruelty Free International China Pilot Project
“We have launched a ground-breaking pilot scheme that could pave the way for Leaping Bunny certified cosmetics companies to sell in China. By partnering with Knudsen&Co and Fengpu Industrial Park our project will help remove the remaining barriers of entry for cruelty free cosmetics brands looking to manufacture and market their products in China. International brands will be able to avoid testing on animals by producing cosmetics in China that don’t need post-market testing.” – Cruelty Free International
It is free to apply to PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies Program.
For US & Canadian companies, applying to Leaping Bunny’s program is free. However, companies with headquarters outside the US and Canada must go through Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny Programme, which has an application fee.
Companies that want to license and use the cruelty-free bunny logo on their product packaging and marketing materials must pay a licensing fee. However, licensing the cruelty-free bunny logo is optional and not required to be approved.
PETA charges a one-time licensing fee of $350.
Leaping Bunny charges a one-time licensing fee, and it’s based on the company’s gross annual sales, ranging from $500 to $4,500 through CCIC, and starts at £149 per year for the smallest brands through CFI.
Both Leaping Bunny and PETA do not require parent companies to be certified.
Leaping Bunny states, “Brands that were purchased by non-certified parent companies must promise to operate as stand-alone subsidiaries with their own supply chains and must continue to meet the requirements of the Leaping Bunny Standard in order to remain on our list.”
Companies can be certified by PETA under one of two designations, (1) Animal-Test Free or (2) Animal-Test Free and Vegan. A company’s entire product line must be vegan to qualify for PETA’s vegan designation. PETA defines ‘vegan’ as free of animal-derived ingredients.
Leaping Bunny does not require companies to be vegan or offer vegan products. Instead, Leaping Bunny strictly examines companies’ animal testing policies.
PETA and Leaping Bunny’s certifications are helpful for cruelty-free consumers wanting to make more conscious choices. Both programs were created to get companies to stop animal testing and encourage consumers to choose cruelty-free.
PETA’s and Leaping Bunny’s programs are free to apply. However, both charge a licensing fee if companies want to advertise using their cruelty-free bunny logo. And the parent company does not need to be certified to be approved by either PETA or Leaping Bunny.
How the two certifications differ is Leaping Bunny requires companies to submit documents from their suppliers; companies must be open to independent audits and renew annually. PETA does not require any of the above; therefore, its standards are based on what the brand tells them.
However, when shopping for both cruelty-free and vegan products, Leaping Bunny does not offer a vegan designation. On the other hand, PETA certifies companies that are animal-test-free and that are also vegan.
27 thoughts on “Leaping Bunny vs. PETA Cruelty-Free Certification – What’s the Difference?”
I looked at PETA’s website and it would appear that their requirements are different now.
1. “All companies that are included on PETA’s cruelty-free list have signed PETA’s statement of assurance or submitted a statement verifying that neither they nor their ingredient suppliers conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products.” – this does mention the suppliers.
2. “Company representatives […] must complete a short questionnaire and sign a statement of assurance verifying that they do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products and that they pledge not to do so in the future.” – however, there’s nothing about whether the companies check that their suppliers don’t test at all, only that they don’t commission the tests for themselves.
3. “Companies are putting their integrity on the line when they respond to consumers. A company that has publicly announced an end to tests on animals and states in writing that it doesn’t test on animals would face a public relations disaster and potential lawsuits if it was caught lying.” – lol. Yeah right, integrity, like that would actually harm a company. And who would catch them lying? I still can’t see anything about PETA conducting audits, so it seems this hasn’t changed.
4. “”Working for Regulatory Change” is a category that recognizes companies that test on animals only when required by law, that are completely transparent with PETA about which animal tests they conduct and why, and that are actively working to promote development, validation, and acceptance of non-animal methods.” – well, they put them on a separate list.
What do you think about this? Maybe there is an update needed? Do you think PETA’s list is more credible now? Although I see brands with unclear statements (such as listed by LH on the avoid or grey list!) or owned by testing brands, like Burt’s Bees. It tells you the parent company’s name, but nothing apart from that, so if someone doesn’t know what this means, they will be fooled by the “This company is cruelty-free! It does NOT test on animals.” – no, it’s NOT cruelty free if it’s owned by Clorox. I don’t know. I wonder what your take on this is!
Why is South Africa’s ‘Beauty Without Cruelty’ org not on the list.
Check them out.
I agree. they have one of the highest regulation standards that need to be met to be cruelty free.
Great comparison chart, it would have been great if you would have included the fees each charge to apply and then the fees they charge to use their logo on a companies products. You would think that the more thorough an assessment the more it would cost to be accredited/certified. which is understandable given the amount of time required to do that. I manage a certification trademark and some of our applications take many, many hours to assess and complete as we have to be extremely thorough. Thanks for this chart.
The company that im working it interested in get Cruelty free certification and logo, we already have the questionnaire and the first question is about in vitro test used. do you know if thi is mandatory? and which specific in vitro test do we need to do?
I hope you can help me this, thank you so much!!
I only buy products with one of the 3 above on them. “Not tested on animals” means nothing and I’ve found it on products from parent companies like P&G or Unilever. As far as what ones I go by, I try to get everything with the LeapingBunny. I live in Illinois and with all my label reading in the cosmetics/beauty/self care isles (shoppers must think I’m crazy especially because I mutter or exclaim “Not tested on animals! Yeah, right Procter and Gamble!) I haven’t found any CCR labels. I have just recently discovered the leaping bunny on the brand “Yesto” shampoo and conditioner. Im pretty happy bc It’s hard to find affordable options although I think I’m going to switch to shampoo bars for the environment as well. I’ll be researching a lot before then! Thanks for your page.