Prioritising human studies: Grape King Bio latest Taiwan firm to ban animal tests not required by law

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Grape King Bio has announced a ban on animal test not explicitly required by law. ©Getty Images
Grape King Bio has announced a ban on animal test not explicitly required by law. ©Getty Images

Related tags animal testing Taiwan functional beverage beverage

Health foods firm Grape King Bio is the latest company in Taiwan to announce a ban on animal test not explicitly required by law.

The company, known for its energy drink brand ComeBest, probiotics, and lion’s mane health foods, said it would be prioritising human clinical studies instead. 

“Grape King Bio aims to reduce animal tests on our Health Foods and FMCG products or ingredients anywhere in the world, and only done in the situation where required by law, or where a feasible alternative does not exist,” ​the company said in a statement.

Standard Foods Group, Uni-President, Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan, Vitalon Foods Group, Lian Hwa Foods Corp, and Yakult are some of the companies in Taiwan that have already banned all animal tests not explicitly required by law.

The Taiwanese authorities have also stepped up its regulations surrounding animal tests.

On February 23, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration announced a ban on animal tests on health foods making blood pressure claims​, as well as revising the requirements on human clinical studies.  

Last April, the Taiwan FDA announced for the first time a ban on animal test in health foods and beverages. Back then, the ban was on products making anti-fatigue claims​.

Manufacturers will need to support the above claims using evidence from human clinical studies.

Human clinical studies are pricier and more complex to conduct than animal tests. In some cases, it could be about two times more expensive, Grape King Bio told us previously.

Companies could be motivated to stop animal tests as they wanted to be seen as ‘forward thinking’ ​and relevant to consumers making ethical purchase decisions, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the organisation championing the ban of animal test said.

PETA has pointed out to food companies in Taiwan that only human studies—not tests on mice, rats, other animals—can accurately substantiate human health claims for marketing ingredients and products to consumers.

“These companies also want to be seen as forward thinking and in alignment with the global industry trend away from animal testing, as consumers in Taiwan and around the world are increasingly focused on making ethical purchasing decisions,” ​Dr. Frances Cheng, physiologist and senior science adviser for PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department told NutraIngredients-Asia.

Grape King Bio added that it would replace animal tests by 1) using alternative non-animal systems in place of live animal whenever possible, 2) using minimum number of animals to achieve maximum information, and 3) modifying procedures to limit discomfort and distress to animals if animal tests are needed.

Japan leading APAC

Aside from Taiwan, Japan is another region in APAC where several food companies have decided to ban animal tests not required by law.

Twenty-five companies have announced such bans, including Ezaki Glico, House Foods Group, ITO EN, Kirin, Meiji, Morinaga, and Suntory.

“Japan is another Asian territory where PETA has had great success in convincing numerous major companies to adopt formal bans on animal tests for health foods.

“[In contrast to the other 24 companies,] Nitto Beverage is an example which has not previously conducted animal testing and agreed never to pursue it,”​ Dr. Cheng said.

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