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Ban testing of make-up ingredients on animals, government urged

Ban testing of make-up ingredients on animals, government urged

Animal rights campaigners are calling on the UK government to ban testing ingredients used for make-up on animals.

Testing cosmetic products and ingredients on animals remains banned in the UK, the government insists.

But the Home Office has issued licenses that allow testing of ingredients that might affect worker safety.

The High Court said that the government was acting legally after a case was brought by animal rights activists.

Testing on animals in the UK had only been allowed if the benefits gained from the research outweighed any animal suffering, for example for medicines.

However, in 2020 the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), an EU agency which oversees chemical regulation, ruled that companies needed to test some ingredients used in cosmetics on animals to ensure they were safe for workers manufacturing the ingredients.


Last week it emerged that since 2019 the government has been issuing licences for animal testing of cosmetic ingredients in line with EU chemical rules, which it retained despite leaving the EU in 2020.

It is not known how many such licences have been issued or to whom.

The issuing of licences was revealed in a High Court case brought by animal rights campaigners.

Mr Justice Linden ruled in favour of the government, saying that the licenses were not in conflict with the government's ban on cosmetics testing.

But he said it was "regrettable" the public had not been informed about the change in policy.

When asked if the government is restarting animal testing, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson said: "No absolutely not. The ban on using animals to test cosmetic products or ingredients for the consumer will remain completely in force and there are absolutely no plans to change that.

"It also remains the case that it is unlawful for any business to sell cosmetic products or their ingredients that have been tested for the consumer on animals.

"Any change in EU law on this will not impact our position and we will take the necessary steps to ensure this is the case. There will be no weakening on our position on animal testing."

PM 'misinformed'

In response, Campaign group Cruelty Free International said: "Unfortunately, the prime minister is misinformed about the government's position on animal testing for cosmetics.

"A policy banning such tests was first introduced in 1998. However, in a letter to Cruelty Free International in August 2021, the Home Office admitted that the policy had 'changed' (i.e. been abandoned), to bring the UK into line with an EU ruling in a case called Symrise.

"When Cruelty Free International challenged the new approach in a recent judicial review, the Home Office disclosed that it had been secretly granting licences to test for cosmetics since February 2019.

"A High Court judge ruled that legally it was entitled to, based on his interpretation of EU general chemicals legislation known as REACH and its relationship with the EU Cosmetics Regulation."

The campaign group added: "The government also said separately that the policy applied to worker safety testing. The prime minister's statement refers to tests 'for the consumer'.

"Whether labelled as consumer or worker safety, the animal tests are identical. The government is now unquestionably once more allowing cosmetics testing on animals for the benefit of consumers."


The Body Shop, a global beauty company, has said they share the concerns of Cruelty Free International that the ban was effectively lifted. They are also calling on the government to reinstate the ban immediately.

Dr Penny Hawkins, head of the RSPCA's animals in science department, said: "We've long been concerned about the UK government's decision to allow animal testing to satisfy chemical safety legislation even when a substance may go on to be used exclusively in a cosmetics product.

"This is in conflict with the ban on the use of animals to test cosmetic products or their ingredients.

It also flies in the face of deeply-held and legitimate concerns about this use of animals, held by the RSPCA and the public - many of whom will be horrified that cosmetic ingredients could again be tested on animals.

"The RSPCA wants to see a global commitment to replacing the use of animals in science, with an immediate end to the use of animal testing for consumer products."

A new chemicals strategy is expected to be published this year outlining the government's position on the use and testing of chemicals in the UK - which may include further guidance to cosmetic companies.


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