War on Mink Oil Gets Results After Single Action

by Tom Gara / Wall Street Journal

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Animal rights activists have a hard enough time coming to terms with the fact people farm mink for their fur. But what seems to have really driven one particularly radical group over the edge was the fact some are also using the adorable little furry fellows as a source of oil.

From the Animal Liberation Press Office last week:

In a well coordinated action during the second week of November, 263 jars of Kiwi mink oil sold in chain drug and big box stores were tampered with across the United States.

Fortunately for us, Kiwi does not use tamper proof seals. Each jar was opened and a small amount of cyanic acid added. They were then placed back on the shelves in Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens, and other stores.

What’s the plan here? Kiwi brand mink oil is sold as a product that waterproofs and conditions leather goods. “Those who use this product will not die like the animals caged on fur farms,” the activists wrote. “The cyanic acid will cause a severe burn and eat through the leather products it is applied to.”

The action is getting results. Consumer products maker S.C. Johnson & Son has told retailers to pull all the Kiwi-branded products containing mink oil off their shelves, and as the WSJ reports today, they won’t return until they contain an alternative to natural mink oil.

S.C. Johnson, a privately held company based in Racine, Wis., also makes Ziploc bags, Windex cleaners and Raid insecticides. It acquired the Kiwi shoe-care brand from the former Sara Lee Corp. in 2011, and since then “has been working to align the products with the standards and values” of S.C. Johnson, spokeswoman Jam Stewart said. Those efforts, she said, include a plan to stop using natural mink oil as an ingredient.

The items with mink oil, which represented only a small product line, will no longer be sold and will be replaced with the reformulated versions down the road, Ms. Stewart said.

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