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Julia Fentem awarded MBE


Congratulations to Julia Fentem, our Global Head of Safety, Environmental & Regulatory Science, who has been awarded an MBE in the King’s New Year’s Honours list in recognition of her services to human health and animal welfare.

Julia Fentem headshot

Julia, who joined Unilever 25 years ago, has led and accelerated our work to develop non-animal safety science, propelled by her deep commitment to helping to bring an end to animal testing for all consumer products anywhere in the world. Julia’s MBE recognises the impact she has also had beyond Unilever, advocating alternatives to animal testing globally and for the changes to policy and legislation needed to end animal testing of chemicals completely.

Acting as both a researcher and advocate for ending animal testing, Julia’s work and expertise has received international acknowledgement. In 2011, the Humane Society of the United States presented Julia with an award for her role initiating Unilever’s non-animal testing research programme, earlier this year she was asked to speak at the European Parliament on strengthening the EU’s ban on animal testing of cosmetics ingredients and she was also recently named by British Vogue as a need-to-know name and scientist shaping the future of skincare.

Julia’s efforts have seen results. Dove became the first Unilever brand to be certified as cruelty-free by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 2018. Since then, 29 other Unilever brands have been approved by PETA, including TRESemmé and Simple, and Unilever has been listed as one of just a handful of companies working for regulatory change.

Here’s what Julia had to say about her newly awarded MBE

“I am very honoured to receive this award from His Majesty the King for services to human health and animal welfare – and to be recognised for something I have been pursuing passionately for more than 30 years – protecting people’s health by using advanced animal-free safety science to bring an end to animal testing of chemicals. It is a real privilege to work with many collaborators across the world who share my passion and commitment.

This has been a journey that started for me in 1988, when I was studying for my PhD in biochemical toxicology at the University of Nottingham Medical School. I would particularly like to thank my colleagues in Unilever’s global Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC), based at Colworth Science Park in north Bedfordshire. They are the most talented, dedicated and professional people anyone could ever wish to work alongside, pioneering new approaches and making a difference every day in protecting people, the environment and animals with their science.

The scientific progress we have contributed to making means that there should be no need to conduct animal tests to assure the safety of consumer products and their ingredients. However, regulations have not kept up with advances in science & technology; and in recent years we have needed to find our voices as safety scientists in advocating strongly for policy and legislative changes that enable the use of advanced non-animal science for regulatory chemicals assessment. We are proud of the progress we have made, but there is still some way to go to achieve our goal of ending animal testing of chemicals completely.”

It’s fantastic to see Julia’s unwavering commitment to science and animal welfare recognised with a well-deserved MBE. As well as more than 20 years leading Unilever’s programme to advance non-animal testing science and technology, including enabling PETA approval for 30 Unilever brands, Julia’s expertise and ability to inspire change has had far-reaching impact across the industry and government. Thank you Julia for your continued passion and leadership and many congratulations.

Richard Slater, Unilever's Chief R&D Officer

You can read more about Julia’s work to champion non-animal testing here.

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