You may have heard reports about a recent UK High Court ruling on a judicial review of the Home Office’s policy on animal testing in the UK, brought by Cruelty Free International (CFI). CTPA, which represents the UK cosmetics industry, is disappointed by the media reporting of this Ruling which suggests that animal testing of cosmetic products may be allowed again. We understand that you will be concerned about whether the ban on animal testing for cosmetics in the UK could be changing, but this is absolutely not the case.
Dr Emma Meredith, Director-General of CTPA says: “I am extremely disappointed by the media reports covering the recent High Court Ruling on animal testing, which suggest animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients could be resumed in the UK. This is absolutely not the case. Animal testing on cosmetic products has been banned in the UK since the late 90s and these strict bans remain in place and will continue to be a key part of the UK cosmetics law, whether or not a product makes a ‘not tested on animals’ or ‘cruelty-free' claim.”
CTPA and the cosmetics industry fully and wholeheartedly supports the ban on animal testing of cosmetic products and their ingredients in the UK. These bans have been in place for many years and CTPA ensured they remained in the UK cosmetics laws when the UK left the EU.
The Ruling centred around a complaint made by an organisation that the Home Office had not communicated clearly on the fact that it had aligned with an EU court ruling in 2020. This EU ruling confirmed that in some case, chemicals used in cosmetics may be tested on animals as a last resort, to prove their safety for workers or the environment for the purposes of a chemicals law called REACH. The UK High Court Ruling dismissed the complaint.
The UK High Court ruling does not override the important Cosmetics Regulation bans on animal testing. CTPA has sought reassurance from the Home Office, and a Government spokesperson confirmed: “There has been no change in our legislation and the ban on using animals for the testing of finished cosmetic products remains in force.”
Strict UK and EU bans
The UK cosmetics industry voluntarily stopped animal testing on cosmetic products around a decade before the ban was introduced across the UK and Europe. CTPA and its members promoted and supported the introduction of the European Union ban on animal testing of cosmetic products and their ingredients. During the preparations for the UK’s exit from the EU, one of CTPA’s key priorities was to ensure that the new cosmetics legal framework in the UK did not weaken the strict animal testing ban that we already had in place. CTPA has a programme in place to support its members in demonstrating the safety of cosmetic products using innovative and proven scientific methods that do not involve the use of animals.
As well as the UK Cosmetics Regulation and EU Cosmetic Products Regulation, which are the laws ensuring that cosmetic products in the UK and Europe are safe, respectively, the ingredients in cosmetics are also subject to other chemical safety laws. One of these laws is called REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), and one of its main aims is to ensure the safety of workers who might be exposed to chemicals, and the environment. Unfortunately, the REACH Regulation sometimes requires substances to be tested on animals.
A lot of work has been done by the cosmetics industry and EU officials to ensure that REACH does not undermine the strict animal testing ban in place for cosmetics. Longstanding guidance issued by the EU confirms that if substances are only used in cosmetics, then even testing for REACH purposes is banned when this testing relates to the safety of the cosmetic product for the person who uses it.
Industry is not looking for loopholes
There are two main laws which cover cosmetic products and ingredients: the UK Cosmetics Regulation and the chemicals legislation, UK REACH. Rulings by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) regarding parts of EU REACH are often quoted when suggestions are made about animal testing for cosmetic purposes. CTPA explained, when the rulings were published in 2020, that the ECHA rulings have not changed anything about the stringent ban on animal testing of cosmetic ingredients and products in the UK and EU. This is also the case for the UK High Court ruling. These strict bans still apply in the UK and Europe, and this is the case whether or not the product makes a ‘not tested on animals’ or ‘cruelty-free' claim.
The UK Cosmetics Regulation is clear in specifying that in order to meet its requirements cosmetic products may not be placed on the UK market if the final formulation, ingredients in a final formulation, or a finished product have been subject to animal testing if the purpose of the tests was compliance with the UK cosmetics laws, no matter where such tests took place.
There are no loopholes and the cosmetics industry is not seeking to circumvent these important bans.
If testing relates to worker or environmental safety, which isn’t part of the UK Cosmetics Regulation, sometimes animal testing can occur for the purposes of REACH, because the Cosmetics Regulation has no legal scope over this. This is not a satisfactory situation for the cosmetics industry, because we are committed to ensuring the safety of chemicals without the need for animals.
Therefore, the cosmetics industry is a global pioneer in research into alternative methods that do not use animals and is proud of its investment and success in developing alternatives to ensure human safety. The industry has a long-standing commitment to the replacement of animal testing and plays a leading role in the development of alternatives by dedicating funding, time, resources and scientific expertise to this area of research.
Thanks to this enormous contribution, the cosmetics industry is a leader in this field and has had a dedicated strategy for new testing methods for over 25 years. The cosmetics industry and CTPA work together with animal charities, academics, authorities and regulators globally to promote these methods internationally to work towards an end to animal testing in all sectors.