Cruelty-free and animal-product-free: What’s the difference? 

It’s widely accepted that animal testing means carried out either in vivo (performed or taking place in a living organism) or ex vivo (directly taken from a living organism) and that in vitro (in glass) methods are the cruelty-free alternative to animal testing.

The potential grey area in product development and safety assessment is the use of in vitro tests which do not always equate to animal-free tests since animal by-products may well have been used in certain components. One example of this is the use of Foetal Bovine Serum (FBS), a material commonly used to promote cell growth for in vitro cell cultures. FBS is commonly harvested by means of a cardiac puncture without any form of anaesthesia and it is reasonably supposed that bovine foetuses are exposed to pain and/or discomfort. In addition to the ethical concerns, several scientific and technical problems exist regarding the use of FBS in cell culture.

XCellR8’s 7-point scale – A one way ticket to transparency

For every test we do at XCellR8, we offer a clear ethical assessment. We also encourage other companies to use our 7-point scale as a transparency tool. There might be some companies that are okay with using something in the amber zone, but others looking for a truly vegan approach, that only want to use tests that sit at the top levels of the scale. We are really starting to use it more and more on our website and social media and hope that more companies follow suit!

The future

At XCellR8, we believe that to be able to claim a product is truly vegan then all testing performed on its ingredients and the finished product must be vegan too, without the use of non-human animal-derived serum, tissues or antibodies. Only then can you say that the product is 100% animal-product-free AND 100% cruelty-free.

Want to learn more about FBS? Read Dr Terry McCann and Dr Carol Treasure’s paper, ‘Addressing animal welfare issues in fetal blood collection for FBS production’ to find out more.