Listerine (Kenvue)

Last Updated: June 6, 2023

How Ethical Is Listerine (Kenvue)?

Make a positive impact by supporting companies with the same values and ethics as what matters most to you. To navigate and find ethical brands, here’s a summary of Listerine’s ethics and initiatives.

Ethical Analysis

Is Listerine cruelty-free or vegan? We’ve got the answers here! Read below to learn more about Listerine’s policies.
Listerine is NOT Cruelty-Free. Listerine engages in animal testing by allowing its products to be animal-tested.

Listerine is also owned by Kenvue, a parent corporation that does engage in animal testing.
Yes, Listerine sells its products in stores in mainland China under conditions where animal testing is still legally required.
Listerine claims to offer some “vegan” options that are free of animal-derived ingredients, but because Listerine engages in animal testing, we wouldn’t classify anything sold or produced by Listerine to be vegan.

Listerine (Kenvue)

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Listerine is NOT Cruelty-Free!

Listerine allows its products or ingredients to be tested on animals when required by law, including when selling in stores in mainland China.

In addition, Listerine is owned by Kenvue (a spin-off of Johnson & Johnson) and a parent company that is NOT cruelty-free.

Listerine’s Animal Testing Policy

While researching to learn more about Listerine’s cruelty-free status, I couldn’t find the brand’s official animal testing policy anywhere on its website.

So I reached out to Listerine to ask for more information about their animal testing policy. More specifically, I wanted to know if they commission or allow others to test their products/ingredients on animals, including when selling in countries that require animal testing (like in mainland China).

And Listerine responded by saying:

“Thank you for taking the time to contact us at Listerine®. 

We are deeply committed to the “3R” Principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement, and actively promote the use of non-animal alternatives whenever feasible. When it comes to the development of medicines, medical devices and other regulated health products, animal use can be required to demonstrate safety and/or to validate efficacy for regulatory purposes. Our Humane Care and Use of Animals Policy ensures the ethical and humane treatment of animals used in laboratory settings to advance patient safety and well-being, reflecting animal welfare standards that meet all applicable local and national laws and regulations.

More information can be found here: https://www.jnj.com/about-jnj/policies-and-positions/humane-care-and-use-of-animals-policy”

Based on the response I received from Listerine, the company admits to allowing its products to be tested on animals when required by law to demonstrate safety and/or validate efficacy.

In addition, policies stating, “animal use can be required for regulatory purposes” usually imply the company is selling its products in mainland China. That’s because cosmetics sold in stores in mainland China are required by law to be tested on animals.

Is Listerine Sold in China?

In my research, I discovered that Listerine products are indeed sold in stores in mainland China.

Below is a screenshot of Listerine’s Chinese website:

But Doesn’t China No Longer Test on Animals?

Companies can bypass China’s pre-market animal testing by choosing to manufacture their ordinary or general cosmetics in China, but it’s not stated anywhere that Listerine has taken this route.

Additionally, the possibility of post-market animal testing is not completely ruled out and may be conducted on some cosmetics sold in physical stores in China.

As of May 1, 2021, cosmetic companies can also export and sell their ordinary or general cosmetics in China without animal testing only if they meet a set of preconditions first. However, meeting these conditions has proven difficult, and it’s still unclear what exactly is accepted according to the new regulations. So there’s no word yet of any company that has successfully done so.

Follow the highlighted lines in the graphic below to see why most cosmetics sold in China (like Listerine) are still required by law to be tested on animals in 2022.

Because Listerine has decided to sell in mainland China stores, they must consent and pay to have their products tested on animals. That’s why most cosmetics brands selling in mainland China cannot be considered cruelty-free in 2022.

Although Listerine may not be conducting these animal tests themselves, they knowingly allow Chinese authorities to test their products on animals to sell in China.

For those reasons, we would not consider Listerine to be cruelty-free by our standards.

Cruelty-Free Policies

At ethical elephant, we always assess a company’s cruelty-free policy using our Cruelty-Free Checklist. This ensures no animal testing was performed by the brand itself, its suppliers, or by any third parties, including when required by law.

See below for our complete cruelty-free checklist. Since Listerine admits to allowing its products or ingredients to be tested on animals when required by law including when selling in China, we cannot classify the brand as being cruelty-free.

Complete Cruelty-Free Checklist

Is Listerine Certified Cruelty-Free?

Listerine is not certified cruelty-free by any third-party cruelty-free certifications like Leaping Bunny or PETA.

Because Listerine is not certified cruelty-free by a third party, no one is looking into or substantiating Listerine’s cruelty-free commitments and claims.

Is Listerine Owned By A Non-Cruelty-Free Parent Company?

Yes. Listerine is owned by Kenvue (a spin-off of Johnson & Johnson) and a parent corporation that still engages in animal testing in 2023.

Some cruelty-free consumers may choose to purchase and support cruelty-free brands owned by animal-tested parent corporations as they hope it will convince the parent company to become cruelty-free.

But in this case, Listerine is NOT cruelty-free and neither is its parent corporation, Kenvue.

Is Listerine Cruelty-Free?

To sum up, Listerine allows its products and ingredients to be tested on animals when required by law including when selling in China. Therefore, we would NOT consider Listerine to be a cruelty-free brand.

Currently, Listerine is on our List of Brands to Avoid – Animal Tested.

Is Listerine Vegan?

Listerine claims to offer some “vegan” options that are free of animal-derived ingredients, but because Listerine engages in animal testing, we wouldn’t classify anything sold or produced by Listerine to be vegan.

In order for products to be considered vegan by ethical elephant’s standards, the products and their ingredients must not be tested on animals anywhere in the world. Also, they must not contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.

Cruelty-Free Alternatives to Listerine

Looking to switch to cruelty-free products? Here are some cruelty-free brands to check out:

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