Attaining Leaping Bunny approval: The Gold Standard in cruelty-free certification

Attaining Leaping Bunny approval: The Gold Standard in cruelty-free certification

In this day and age, navigating what it means to be cruelty-free can be a daunting task for both companies and consumers alike. With so much misinformation circulating and no federal oversight into labelling requirements, companies can self-identify as being cruelty-free without having to substantiate their claims. And in turn, shoppers are inundated with renditions of cute bunnies on packaging allowing them to (in many cases) believe a product is free of animal testing, when in fact, there is no oversight on logos, labels, or claims.

In order to combat the rampant confusion, the Leaping Bunny Program in North America was established in 1996. The Program is operated by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, a group of animal protection organizations whose members include American Anti-Vivisection Society (Chair of CCIC), Animal Alliance of Canada, Humane Society of the United States, National Anti-Vivisection Society, and Rise for Animals. The Leaping Bunny Program certifies companies to be free of new animal testing at all stages of product development in accordance with its Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals. Its mission is to connect compassionate consumers to cruelty-free companies using its well-established Standard.

In order for a company to become Leaping Bunny certified, it must create a supply chain management system that is free of animal testing at all stages of product development after a company’s chosen fixed cut-off date. This system must include all manufacturers and/or raw material suppliers.

In addition, all companies must annually recommit to the Leaping Bunny Program through a modified application, which ensures that their supply chain management system is up-to-date with all current suppliers and manufacturers. Companies must also open their supply chain management system up to independent audits, during which time individual products are cross-checked with company declarations and actual orders for said ingredients and/or formulations that make up the selected products.

Further, companies applying for certification who wish to register their products for domestic importation into China, where animal testing on imported cosmetics is still the rule and not the exception, are required to undergo both pre- and post-market audits to ensure no animal testing has been conducted.

The CCIC strives to make certification as accessible to as many brands as possible. Therefore, there is no cost for companies to get certified. The only cost is an optional one: should a company qualify for certification, become certified, and wish to use the Leaping Bunny Logo in marketing and packaging materials, it will be required to license the logo through paying a low, one-time fee, based on the company’s gross annual sales.


Regulations around animal testing on cosmetics have seen their first major change since 1938, with the recent passage of the Modernization of Cosmetic Regulation Act of 2022. This new law requires companies to substantiate and document safety for their products, but there are no specifics as to how to determine this, i.e., there is no federal animal testing ban in place that would preclude using animals. Further, some ingredients in sunscreens that have been safely used for decades are now under consideration for mandatory animal testing by the FDA.

To date, there are 11 states (California, Hawai’i, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Virginia) with animal testing bans in place along with 42 countries worldwide. It is important to note that while bans are in place, animal testing can still happen due to other regulatory requirements such as chemical management programs, e.g., REACH in the European Union or country-specific mandates, e.g. China. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for consumers to be able to rely on a list that goes above and beyond to ensure animal testing is kept out of the supply chain.


For more information on the Leaping Bunny Program, visit or download the free smartphone app Cruelty Free for a complete list of certified cruelty-free companies updated every 24 hours.

Author Bio

Kim Paschen is Director of the Leaping Bunny Program, a well-established cruelty-free certification program for personal care and household products that guarantees products to be free of animal testing at all stages of product development. She oversees day-to-day operations of the program to ensure its integrity in addition to working with certified companies on a wide variety of promotions.


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