CINCINNATI (AP) _ Procter & Gamble Co., the maker of Crest, Tide, Pampers and Ivory soap, said Wednesday it will immediately stop using animals to test many of its household products.

P&G made exceptions for its current food and pharmaceutical products and for any new products. In some cases, animal testing is required by law, and P&G said such practices will continue.

Animal-rights activists have made the worldwide consumer products company a target for years, with a boycott of P&G products beginning in 1989. They have thrown cream pies at P&G's chairman, been arrested at the Cincinnati headquarters and spoofed P&G's Tide detergent-sponsored race car with a similarly decorated auto with the logo ``Died.''

Larry Games, P&G vice president of global product safety, said the new policy is effective immediately in the more than 140 countries in which P&G operates.

``This announcement covers roughly 80 percent of P&G's total product portfolio, including color cosmetics, shampoos and hairstyling products, skin care products, tissue and towel products, laundry and dishwashing detergents and household cleaners,'' P&G said in a statement.

Science has advanced to the point that non-animal testing methods can be relied on to ensure that these products are safe for people, Games said. P&G said, for example, that if it were to reformulate a product, it could do so by relying on previous animal data.

P&G has spent almost $100 million during the past 15 years to study alternatives to animal testing, Games said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, one of the organizations that have tried to get P&G to end animal testing, said the announcement is a small step forward, but more needs to be done.

The organization will take its ``Died'' car off the road and refocus its boycott on new P&G products, said Mary Beth Sweetland, a PETA vice president.

``Animal testing will still be a sorry part of any new product P&G puts out,'' she said from PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va.

Consumer product manufacturers such as Dial, Gillette and Mary Kay cosmetics have already agreed to end animal testing, Ms. Sweetland said.

The Food and Drug Administration requires animal testing on pharmaceuticals, Ms. Sweetland said. PETA has never asked companies to violate such requirements, she said.