Upon discovering a 2014 Alzheimer’s study co-authored by a former Hershey scientist, PETA called out the chocolate giant last year and requested a ‘real policy’ against animal testing. Both organizations confirmed this timeline.
The study involved testing the potential for chocolate extracts to reduce protein aggregates found to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, said Shalin Gala, VP of international laboratory methods at PETA.
“The science behind this experiment is grossly flawed in that animals don’t naturally develop Alzheimer’s disease,” he added in a statement to ConfectioneryNews.
While the Alzheimer’s Society supports animal research as an important part of developing effective treatments, it notes that 75% of its research does not involve animals and uses them only when ‘no practicable alternative’ exists. Alzheimer's Research UK also considers animal testing a last resort. Both organizations adhere to the '3R' principle of replace, reduce and refine.
As of last week, at the bottom of its ‘Choice and Transparency’ page, Hershey’s website reads: “The Hershey Company does not conduct, fund or contribute to animal testing.”
Hershey insists it committed to eliminate animal testing and studies in 2007, also at PETA’s request, said Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications. He called the group’s announcement around Valentine’s Day ‘misleading.’
The chemist at question “had donated cocoa and also contributed the polyphenol analysis table used for the study,” but he has since retired, Beckman confirmed.
“We confirmed our ongoing commitment to our 2007 pledge, and PETA thanked us and asked us to publicly state the 2007 commitment on our company website, which we did,” he added.
In a press release, PETA called the policy ‘new’ and likened it to similar policies at Meiji Holdings, Lindt & Sprüngli, and Pocky stick manufacturer Ezaki Glico.
“Based on the progressive new public policy against animal testing that Hershey adopted at PETA’s request, we announced this good news to our supporters,” said PETA’s Gala. He cited the 2014 as evidence that Hershey previously did not have 'an effective policy,' but he praised the company for implementing "a strict policy that is public and properly enforced."
"That is something to celebrate and tell consumers about," he added to ConfectioneryNews.
The public posting might be new, but the policy is not, countered Beckman. Hershey added the statement during a ‘total corporate website’ update earlier this year, he said.
Hershey’s famous chocolate syrup is, in fact, vegan. It contains cocoa and corn syrup, while its new Simply 5 version uses invert sugar syrup – neither contains dairy.