Cruelty-free and REACH: Why are some cosmetic ingredient suppliers being made to use animal tests?

Animal testing to meet the requirements of European cosmetics legislation has been long consigned to history. However, in rare but significant cases, ECHA has insisted that cosmetic ingredients be tested on vertebrate animals to meet workplace safety standards required under EU chemicals legislation REACH. Cosmetics Business looks into this delicate balance between human and animal welfare

Consumers buying a cosmetic or personal care product in the European Union can rest easy knowing that neither their product nor any of its ingredients have been tested on animals to meet the requirements of the EU Cosmetic Products Regulation (1223/2009).

But, for animal rights campaigners, a major problem persists.

And this problem comes to the fore when the maker of a substance used in cosmetics is asked by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to carry out tests in order to comply with the informational requirements of REACH, the EU’s pan-industry regulation addressing the production and use of chemical substances.

Such instances, while presumed to be rare, have a heavy animal toll.

In this article, Cosmetics Business delves into why and how a cosmetic ingredient might still be tested on vertebrate animals in the EU seven years after the testing of cosmetics on animals officially ended under the Cosmetics Regulation.

Animal-free in the EU

The road to ending animal testing under the EU legislative requirements for cosmetics and personal care was both long and thorough, as Emma Meredith, Director-General of the UK-based Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA), explains.

“No cosmetic ingredients can be used in the EU if they have been tested on animals to meet the requirements of the EU Cosmetic Products Regulation (1223/2009) anywhere in the world,” she tells Cosmetics Business.

Strict bans on animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients were introduced in the Seventh Amendment to the EU Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC) – the predecessor to the Regulation – and the legal text was published in the Official Journal to the European Union in February 2003.

The bans were then introduced stepwise, says Meredith.

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