BALTIMORE (WMAR) - Is buying cosmetics and personal care products from companies that don't test on animals important to you?
Two new surveys found the majority of Americans say 'yes', they oppose animal testing and look for labels that show the product is 'cruelty free', but the labels man not mean what you think.
When you see makeup, lotions and other personal care items that say 'cruelty free' and 'not tested on animals' what do you think that means?
"They just don't test it on animals at all," says consumer Jacinta Leonaro.
Patricia McGarry thinks it means "not tested on animals, I mean what else are you going to think?"
That's not the answer.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there is no specific definition. Even their website states there is "no legal definition for these terms".
Vicki Katrinak from the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics says "it could still be tested on animals, the component ingredients could definitely be tested on animals."
So how do we do it?
Through third parties or outside labs they contract with. No cosmetic company trade group would agree to an interview about animal testing.
Fortunately, fewer companies test on animals today. That's partly because many common cosmetic ingredients, tested years ago, are known to be safe, and don't have to be re-tested.
Another reason, it's unpopular with consumers.
"Many companies are putting big investments into developing new methods that don't depend on the use of animals because of public opinion against the practice," said Nancy Beck, PhD., with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
So how do you know if a product is really 'cruelty free'?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics both have lists of companies they say don't test on animals on their websites.
Both organizations license their own bunny logos, which consumers can look for on products in the store to help avoid cosmetic claim confusion.
The FDA would not discuss it it plans on regulating the terms 'cruelty free' and 'not tested on animals' in the future.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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