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EU Bans Animal-tested Cosmetic Ingredients

Posted: March 15, 2013
EU bans animal testing for cosmetic ingredients.

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With the testing and marketing ban in force, the Commission said there can be no new animal testing for cosmetics purposes in the Union, either for cosmetics products and/or ingredients, and it is no longer possible to simply carry out testing for these purposes outside the Union and then use the data here to substantiate the safety of cosmetics. In a statement the Commission said, “consumers can therefore be sure that the cosmetic use of an ingredient in Europe cannot be the reason for any new animal testing.”

According to the Commission’s statistics, the European cosmetics and toiletries industry is worth more than €70 billion, representing almost half of the global market for cosmetics. An estimated 184,000 people are directly employed by the cosmetics industry in the Union. Although the Commission said “it is clear that there will be some impacts” on the cosmetics and cosmetics ingredient industry, it said the impacts, however, were "difficult to quantify."

“The Commission has thoroughly assessed the impacts of the marketing ban and considers that there are overriding reasons to implement it. This is in line with what many European citizens believe firmly that the development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing,” Borg said.

Although it's not currently possible to fully replace animal testing by other methods (read more about this in (P&F's October 2012 issue), the Commission, as well as groups like the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing, are examining alternative methods. Also, several alternative test methods have been validated by the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) and have subsequently been included in OECD Testing Guidelines and in the respective Union legal texts.

For example, reconstructed human skin models exist to test whether an ingredient can cause skin irritation. However, for the complex health effects that concern the whole human organism the situation is much more complicated. Still, the Commission has made about €238 million available between the years 2007 and 2011 for research into alternative methods to animal testing. It said the cosmetics industry has contributed as well, for example, by co-funding the Safety Evaluation Ultimately Replacing Animal Testing (SEURAT) research initiative with €25 million.

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