This may be hard to believe, Green Monsters, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently discovered that the popular soy sauce company Kikkoman has been, “conducting and funding cruel and deadly experiments on animals in order to make health claims about its products.”

PETA has uncovered a whole host of grisly and disturbing details about Kikkoman’s animal testing practices, dating to as recently as this August. The rats used in the experiments have had feeding tubes repeatedly forced down their throats so that Kikkoman workers could feed them fermented soy milk and assess its impact. The animals were also force-fed soy sauce through surgically attached stomach tubes, before enduring a horrific death by decapitation, and having their brains removed. Mice have been bred to be obese and fed citrus extract before being killed and having their muscles removed. Finally, the company was revealed to be force-feeding rabbits a high-calorie diet for the express purpose of inducing heart disease, before later being killed.

Animal rights attorney Marisa McDonald explained to VICE that Kikkoman was, “force-feeding rats to study the physiological effects of fermented soy milk (FSM).” Any time a food company wants to make a health claim about their products, the Food and Drug Administration requires that these products undergo testing to prove the claims.

However, there is no stipulation saying the tests HAVE to involve animals. Justin Goodman, PETA’s Director of Laboratory Investigations, pointed out to VICE that in vitro human digestive systems or 3D microfluidic cell culture chips could, in fact, provide a more accurate simulation of the human psychological response.

In a statement, PETA said: “These types of cruel health claim experiments are not required by law, and there are more relevant non-animal research methods – including tests with human tissues and human volunteers – available that are humane and can actually establish the health benefits of food products for humans. PETA has repeatedly contacted Kikkoman to share information about modern non-animal research tools that can better meet the company’s objectives and save animals, but it has refused to meaningfully address the issue.”

Animal testing is rapidly becoming an outdated scientific method for many reasons. More than 90 percent of medical drugs that have passed animal trials and been deemed “safe” prove to be ineffective or dangerous for human consumption. It works the other way around, too. According to public health specialist Dr. Aysha Akhtar, “Of every 10,000 potential drugs tested in the lab, only about five pass on to clinical trials. Many don’t pass the animal test because of species-specific results. Yet many of these agents would likely have worked spectacularly and been safe in humans.” One example of this is the popular painkiller aspirin, which, while safe and effective in humans, causes severe birth defects in lab animals such as mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, and monkeys.

Luckily, the ongoing emergence of new, effective, animal-free technologies could soon render animal testing obsolete. In the meantime, you can click here to find out how to boycott companies that continue to run cruel tests on animals. The internationally recognized Leaping Bunny logo will also help you to identify which brands have been certified as cruelty-free.

PETA are now running a petition calling for Kikkoman to end its cruel and unnecessary animal tests, and urging followers to purchase soy sauce from competing brand San-J, which has confirmed that it doesn’t conduct or fund any tests on animals. Click here to sign. You can also share this article to spread awareness about Kikkoman’s cruel practices and put pressure on the company to end its animal tests NOW.

Lead image source: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals