Oh, I really hate this subject.
There are just so many different bloody angles, and not one of us can really appreciate them all.
My initial reaction was 'oh my god, I can't believe dog food companies need to indulge in this kind of research, it's disgusting'.
And then I thought about what they are trying to claim - that their food actually improves the health of your animals, and that's a different matter altogether. You just can't claim that without the scientific evidence to back it up.
In the UK (and the rest of Europe, of course) we are regulated by the European Directives, one on Medical Devices, one for Pharmaceuticals, and of course, several others.
In Canada, you are regulated by the CSA (I humbly apologise, but I can't remember right now what that stands for),
In the US, you are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration).
The whole bottom line is that if you make a medical claim (which anything like 'improving the health of your dog/cat, etc' absolutely IS), then you have to abide by the relevant regulation for your product. No ifs, buts or choices. You (your company) does it.
I've worked for many years in medical devices. There are some INCREDIBLY frustrating International Standards which make you do some really crap testing if you want to be able to say you comply - and if you want to market your product, you have no choice but to comply.
The word I hate most is 'biocompatibility' testing. The standard ISO 10993 (actually a whole series of standards) describes in detail all the animal testing you have to do. It makes cold reading. You can only get away without doing it by PROVING that you don't need to (for example, you already have data from previous work, etc). And believe me, justifying NOT doing the work is often much harder than getting on and paying out for the work to be done. And some of these tests are not cheap. One suite of tests for a particular company's product cost around £70,000 (about $110K US or £140K Canadian). And this is over an above any research on whether the product actually works!!!
So you ask if there are any regulations to control animal testing - YES, of course there are... but regulations are to blame for instigating much testing too.
I think that the decision by IAMS is a purely commercial one, aimed at differentiating their product from the rest of the market, by adding these claims. So from that point of view, I completely agree with the people who have said that they put profit before ethics. I just wanted to explain WHY they would have had to perform the tests in order to be able to follow that route.
For what it's worth (if anyone's still reading this by now!), I've seen more videos of awful animal procedures than I ever wished to - I've attended meetings where we sat around chatting, drinking coffee and eating cookies whilst reviewing, say, a pig undergoing multiple liver punch biopsies in an acute study (i.e. the animal dies there and then), or a series of female rabbits receiving uterus wounds for a 'recovery' study (i.e. the animals are brought round and looked after for a period of time before sacrifice and dissection). In the latter one, my colleagues joked that the first rabbit brought out was a male! Somehow your mind blocks it out after a while, and it's all just plumbing. Every now and then, the horror breaks through, and has to be quickly subdued again, for sake of one's career!
And before anyone decides to bomb my house, I don't work in that field anymore!!! And when I did, I was just a minor player - I made no decisions, and had very little to do with the sharp end, I just happened to be "in the loop". I think that there is far too much unnecessary animal work done, and I'm turning my attentions to saving animals instead.
But I just DON'T think that it will ever be completely unnecessary, much as I wish that were the case. Too much good work comes out as well as all the appalling stuff.
Hope this isn't TOO much information...
"If you think you can't afford it, you just don't want it badly enough..."