Taiwan removes anti-fatigue health food animal testing option

06/23/2021 08:44 PM
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The health food label. CNA file photo
The health food label. CNA file photo

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) has removed animal testing as an option for companies filing anti-fatigue health food applications amid calls that the move will effectively reduce the inhumane treatment of laboratory animals.

The amendment to the agency's anti-fatigue health claim regulation on April 15 has made human subject research the only requirement, removing the use of animal tests.

The agency said at the time that it took the step to make its rules on experimental methods and lab practices for evaluating the health benefits of health foods "clearer and more comprehensive."

It means inhumane practices such as drowning and electroshock tests conducted on animals by companies wanting to make marketing claims that consuming their product improves endurance will no longer be conducted in Taiwan, according to animal groups who have been following the issue.

A U.S.-based animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which said it has been actively involved in convincing the agency to ban animal tests, said the amendment was a victory for the animal welfare movement.

PETA said that among the tests abandoned will be drowning mice and rats, as well as making them run to exhaustion on an electrified treadmill.

Warning: Some viewers may find the images disturbing.

During the treadmill-running test, for instance, scientists feed rats large quantities of the test foods and then put them on treadmills equipped with electrified plates, PETA said.

They then force the animals to run at increasing speeds and on steepening inclines and observe how long it takes for them to choose repeated electrocution over continuing to run. At the end of the trial the rats are killed and dissected, according to the group.

Animal experimentation is not only cruel but also a colossal failure, PETA argues, explaining that 90 percent of animal tests fail to lead to treatments for humans and more than 95 percent of new drugs that were safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.

In June, Standard Foods Group -- the largest health food company in Taiwan and a licensee of PepsiCo's Quaker Oats Company -- became the country's first major food and beverage company to ban animal tests not required by law.

In an announcement, the company said it will adapt to international scientific and animal welfare trends and "not conduct, sponsor, or entrust/outsource to third-parties animal testing unless expressly required by regulations."

PETA U.S. Vice President Shalin Gala lauded the company's move, saying it is a "groundbreaking policy that others in Taiwan should follow by using safe human studies instead of cruel animal tests." PETA said it has also written to 19 other major health food companies in Taiwan that have collectively conducted more than 8,000 inhumane tests on animals over the past two decades in laboratory experiments not required by law.

It also launched an online petition urging them to ban this archaic practice.

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