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Label aims for animal-friendly products

A U.S. animal-rights group and Italian retailer Benetton Group have teamed up in the world of socially responsible marketing by creating a label logo for products not tested on animals.

Benetton's cosmetics division and the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals this week unveiled the new seal of approval _ a spare, circular design featuring a rabbit's head.

The creators say that it is the first international "cruelty-free" product marker and that it is intended as an easy way for interested shoppers to recognize animal-friendly items.

Jenny Woods, a PETA spokeswoman in Washington, said the logo would be aimed at makers of cosmetics, personal-care products and household cleaners.

Benetton Cosmetics, which designed the logo, said it would debut on labels for the Italian company's fragrance line and some of its other products.

The rabbit was selected because that animalis often used in testing, Woods said.

"We wanted a logo that was very simple," she said. "There are already some logos out there, but they're big, have too many words and don't fit on labels, so they're not well-used."

Woods said companies using the logo would first have to sign a legally binding statement assuring PETA it doesn't use animals to test products. She said her organization would conduct random investigations to ensure compliance.

PETA is best known for its high-profile protests in defense of animals. In the past few years, it has campaigned against the fur trade, transplanting animal organs to humans, a pigeon shoot in Pennsylvania, use of penguins in the movie Batman Returns, and laboratories engaged in animal-based research.

Product testing on animals includes such practices as dripping a chemical into eyes or applying it to the skin to see how it might affect a human. Testing opponents contend there are ways to make the same determinations without using animals.