My previous post on animal testing has prompted many of you to ask questions via email and tweet. Their number 1 is "Are animal experiments really legal?"
Here are the facts.
Outside of Europe it is free for everyone, with little or no restrictions on animal testing with cosmetics in many countries, including the United States and China.
The situation in Europe is different due to the 2003 EU Cosmetics Directive. This prohibits:
- testing cosmetic products
- the testing of individual cosmetic ingredients
This legislation was gradually implemented to give companies time to find viable test alternatives – see the phasing-out schedule below:
|2003||Announcement of the ban|
|March 11, 2009||Test ban issued, exceptions for three tests still permitted|
|March 11, 2013||Complete ban on the sale and marketing of all cosmetics that contain ingredients tested on animals. Animal-tested cosmetics imports to Europe are also prohibited.|
If everything goes according to plan, our shop shelves in Europe should be free of animal-tested products from March 2013. At least in theory …
What are the gaps?
- Cosmetics companies rely on performing their own due diligence for suppliers. There does not appear to be an audit process to ensure compliance with the law.
- Companies can still do animal testing outside of Europe – hence the latest hoo-ha about China
- Crossed "medical" and "cosmetic" ingredients may be excluded. Medicinal ingredients are lawfully animal tested, but are often used in cosmetic preparations and marketed for their skin benefits.
Certification becomes important here. The Leaping Bunny logo, which is displayed on approved products, helps customers to confidently search for cruelty-free cosmetics.
Avon was recently reported to the ASA for making cruelty-free claims that failed to stand up to scrutiny. I suspect there are many more brands that bend the rules that have not yet been understood …
Don't be fooled! Ask your beloved beauty brands to stand up and rely on this important topic.