P&G, Iams fire testing lab over PETA disclosures
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2003:
CINCINNATI, CHICAGO, DAYTON–The pet food manufacturer Iams
and Procter & Gamble, owner of Iams since 1999, took a public
relations beating from PETA on March 25-26 over alleged substandard
conditions at an unidentified contract laboratory.
PETA senior vice president Mary Beth Sweetland stated at a
March 25 press conference that undercover video taken at the lab,
which she refused to name, shows animals in “small, barren cages,
some for up to six years.”
Stating that “The lab is not in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana,”
Sweetland said that animals there “are not given a resting board off
the cement floor when the temperature is less than 50 degrees, as
required by federal regulations,” reported Cliff Peale of the
“Video clips aired during the press conference showed
sluggish dogs with surgical wounds lined up together on the floor, a
dog apparently left unattended while wearing an anesthesia mask, and
a lab employee instructing the investigator to strike a dog in the
chest if he stops breathing,” added Tim Tresslar of the Dayton Daily
Sweetland “said PETA would soon file a formal complaint with
the USDA” about alleged Animal Welfare Act violations,” wrote Peale.
“In September 2001,” Peale added, “PETA officials met with
top Iams executives to review the company’s policies on animal
treatment. Iams agreed within the last year to fund a monitor for
each of its contract labs, putting it ahead of many other companies.
It has done that so far in contract labs, including universities,
handling about three-quarters of the animals it uses,” according to
Iams spokesperson Bryan Brown.
Tresslar disclosed 24 hours later that, “Iams on Tuesday
suspended its research operations at a private contract lab after
PETA alleged that the lab provides inadequate care for the dogs and
cats housed there as test subjects. Neither Iams nor PETA identified
the plant under suspension.”
“Iams spokesman Bryan Brown said the company wasn’t aware of
PETA’s investigation” until just before the press conference,
Quit Urbana lab
The PETA allegations sounded as if they pertained to the
subject of a June 2002 ANIMAL PEOPLE inquiry to Procter & Gamble
senior manager in corporate communications Linda Ulrey about
statements received from a whistleblower referred by the Best Friends
“Many beagles are used for tests at the University of
Illinois’ Animal Sciences Department, where I used to work,” the
whistleblower said. “One facility is in the campus building
underground, behind quite a lot of security. Another facility is
west of town at a kennel operation. At least the dogs at this kennel
get to see the outdoors from their indoor/outdoor runs. On campus,
the dogs live underground in a concrete room. They are well cared
for, but never get to run outside in grass.
“There were about 6-12 dogs, all beagles I think,” the
whistleblower continued. “They each had runs and padded floors.
People played with them, but I seem to recall that the dogs were not
able to play with each other. They had surgically implanted tubes in
their stomachs so that tests could easily be done on the material
they ate after it was digested. I don’t know absolutely for sure that
these dogs are being used for Iams,” the whistleblower said, “but
talk by the faculty indicates that they do a lot of work for Iams,
and this is their main lab site.”
Similar statements, from different sources and giving less
detail, were circulated at about the same time by animal advocacy
However, Ulrey said in July 2002 and repeated on March 26,
“Iams is not currently funding or sponsoring research with cannulated
dogs at the University of Illinois. The Iams study there–designed
to evaluate canine metabolic energy and effective carbohydrate
sources–ended in July 1998. We have no plans to use that procedure
in the future,” Ulrey added.
“Yesterday’s news from PETA was quite troubling to us,”
Ulrey continued on March 26. “I hope you know from your contact with
us over the years that we stand behind our policies. If something is
not being followed, we will act to correct it.”
Ulrey confirmed that Iams had “suspended research activities
with the contract lab” depicted in the PETA video, “launched a full
investigation of that facility,” and “will review compliance with
Iams’ new research policy at all the facilities we use.”
The Iams research policy states that “The results must help
veterinarians and pet owners to nutritionally enhance the well-being
of cats and dogs, and manage important pet health conditions.
[Animal] studies will only be conducted if alternative non-animal
methods or existing research cannot answer the questions raised. We
will ensure the humane treatment of cats and dogs, and provide for
animal well being, socialization and husbandry. We will also meet
or exceed standards established by the Animal Welfare, the USDA, and
Directive 86/609/EEC of the European Union.
“We will not fund or participate in any study requiring or
resulting in the euthanasia of cats or dogs,” the policy contiues.
“We will only conduct research that is equivalent to nutritional or
medical studies acceptable on people, including: urine, feces,
blood and immune cell analysis, allergy tests, and skin and muscle
biopsies, for which adequate anesthesia and analgesics will be
provided whenever necessary.
“Research will be closely monitored at internal and external
facilities,” the policy pledges, “with the goal being to eliminate
even minor pain or discomfort and to create enriched environments for
the cats and dogs involved. To enforce this principle, Iams will
place at these facilities a company-designated and funded person
responsible for ensuring the well being of cats and dogs,” who “will
make certain that cats and dogs are properly cared for and socialized.
“We will test our foods on groups of cats or dogs within the
general population,” the policy stipulates, “who already suffer
from target diseases or conditions. However, we will not contract
for, nor conduct, any study involving surgeries to create or mimic
diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease,
or intentional damage to other organs,” such as were conducted for
Iams prior to the P&G acquisition, “nor will the company use
non-surgical methods to induce or simulate diseases that are not
acceptable in nutritional or medical research on humans; nor will
the company fund any university positions that may be involved in
such activities for the study of cat and dog nutrition.
“We will not use, in any studies,” the policy pledges,
“animals who are already induced with disease or surgically altered
through other research; nor will the company conduct such studies
under the auspices of any industry association or group.
“Our findings will be communicated,” the policy finishes,
“to benefit others who are seeking to improve the health and well
being of cats and dogs, and to help prevent repetition of tests
requiring animal involvement.”
P&G has spent more than $120 million since 1984 in
fulfillment of a 1984 pledge to the late Henry Spira of Animal Rights
International to phase out animal testing as fast as alternatives can
be developed and win governmental approval. In June 1999 P&G
announced that it had ended all use of animal tests for current
beauty, fabric, home care, and paper products, except as required
by law. “This announcement covers roughly 80% of P&G’s total product
portfolio,” said P&G spokespersons Mindy Patton and Amy Neltner.