Animal rights groups to boycott Ribena

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Animal rights campaigners are drawing up plans to urge a consumer boycott of Ribena and Lucozade in their campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences, Europe's largest vivisection laboratory.

Animal rights campaigners are drawing up plans to urge a consumer boycott of Ribena and Lucozade in their campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences, Europe's largest vivisection laboratory.

Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), a pressure group locked in a bitter struggle with Huntingdon, says it wants shoppers to know that SmithKline Beecham, which makes the branded drinks, tests some of its other products at Huntingdon's facilities.

The tactic marks a departure for the campaigners, who have previously targeted Huntingdon's staff, its shareholders and the Cambridgeshire-based company's bankers.

Earlier this year, the campaign prompted the Labour Party pension fund and other fund managers to sell their shares in the group, helping to undermine its share price. Huntingdon's bankers, the Royal Bank of Scotland, recently opted not to extend the company's £22.5m overdraft facility after a series of demonstrations at its branches.

A spokesman for SHAC, which claims 5,000 members, said: "We are not trying to make out that these products are tested on animals, just make the link with a company that uses Huntingdon. It's better than standing in the street and talking about vivisection."

SmithKline Beecham, which is merging with its rival Glaxo Wellcome, yesterday condemned the boycott plans. Lynne Smith, a spokesman for SmithKline Beecham, said: "None of our consumer health care products are tested on animals ... Clearly we take any threat or action against our products seriously."

Ms Smith said that SmithKline Beecham did test some of its other products with Huntingdon. Last year, the company recorded Ribena sales worth £169m, while Lucozade earned £151m. Most of the sales were in the United Kingdom.

The SHAC spokesman said members would stick labels on to the two products on supermarket shelves, coupled with demonstrations at stores.

Andrew Gay, Huntingdon's marketing director, said: "We don't discuss any of our clients or products with anyone. The public needs to understand that a logical extension of this argument is that campaigners will be asking patients to stop taking... medicine, as all prescription medicines will have been tested on animals."

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