In the UK the Body Shop has topped the Cosmetics Category in the RSPCA's annual Alternative Awards. The award, which also acknowledged Neil's Yard and Lush, recognises companies' efforts towards improving the treatment of animals.
The event, which was hosted by Channel Five and held in London's Natural History Museum, revealed the country's top advocates of animal treatment in the cosmetics, food and fashion industries.
The awards were given on the basis of companies policies in the area of testing of products on animals, testing of ingredients on animals, labelling and the commitment to replace animal testing with alternative testing methods.
Jackie Ballard, RSPCA director general, said: "These companies are blazing a trail for animal welfare by putting kindness and social responsibility at the heart of their business model. This can only be good for their profits because new polling shows 84 per cent of people believe that businesses who minimise needless animal suffering should be rewarded."
As well as receiving a trophy, the winners of the competition will be able to use a new marque for one year on their product labelling, informing consumers that they are a business committed to animal welfare standards.
The move falls in line with concerted efforts by the European Union to ban the testing of all cosmetic ingredients on animals. In September last year the Commission introduced a new law banning the testing of finished cosmetics products on animals.
In response to the challenge of banning the testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals, the Commission formed a working group made up of stakeholder representatives from industry, animal welfare and consumer associations and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Their task is to discover adequate alternatives to ingredients testing in an effort to draw up a timetable specifying exactly when a total ban can be phased in.
However, the road towards a total industry ban on animal testing is expected to be a long one. A recent report from the OECD says that the outcome of the current work is not likely to produce a viable alternative for the next ten years, making a total ban on animal testing within the industry unlikely before 2015.