If the European Union’s legislation is obeyed, no longer will animal skins, eyes, or stomachs be subjected to potentially painful chemicals so humans can look alluring or attempt to correct skin aging. As of March 11, 2013, no cosmetic product containing an ingredient that has been tested using animals after this date will be allowed for sale. This ban began step by step in 2003 .The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice has slammed moves by the French government to partially lift the ban. The French are one of the major producers of cosmetics.
The EU’s cosmetic industry spokespeople claim the industry has been attempting to find alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics for more than 20 years and they have developed five alternative methods but the methods have to be validated to ensure human safety.
The practice of testing cosmetics on animals started in 1933 when an American woman used a Lash Lure mascara to darken her lashes. Her eyes first burned then she went blind and died. Following this incident, in 1938 the US Food and Drug association passed an act to protect the public from unsafe, risky cosmetic product
Many companies, because of the sentiment against using animals for testing, now label their cosmetics cruelty free, which implies that products have not been tested on animals. How do many companies back up their claims today that their products are “cruelty free”? A cosmetics manufacturer told me that some are now paying humans to test cosmetics rather than using four-legged animals. A private labeler who supplies products to many “name” companies told me his firm does tests on animals, and the large companies that buy his products then many say that they do not do animal tests. If, on the other hand, a company uses older cosmetic ingredients that have long ago been tested on animals, they can also say their “new” cosmetic versions have not been tested on animals.
Incidentally, cosmetic manufacturers took the word “animal” out of their ingredient labels but not out of the ingredients. Hydrolyzed animal protein, for example, is now called hydrolyzed collagen and desamido collagen used in “anti-aging creams” also has had the word “animal” removed from the label. There are dozens of cosmetic ingredients derived from animals. You will be able to identify them in this Dictionary
The most controversial and widely used animal test is the Draize eye irritancy test, which involves putting drops of the substance in question into the eyes of albino rabbits. Investigators then note if any redness, swelling, cloudiness of the iris, or corneal opacity occurs. In addition, the ability of the eye to repair any damage is noted. Draize is difficult to replace with a single alternative test because it measures three different areas of the eye. Replacing Draize will probably take a combination of alternative tests but the combination has not yet been developed.
The truth is the FDA admits it cannot require companies to do safety testing of their cosmetic products before marketing. Neither cosmetic products nor cosmetic ingredients are reviewed or approved by the FDA before they are sold to you. Recalls taken by the cosmetic industry to call back products that present a hazard, or that are somehow defective, are voluntary. The FDA is not permitted to require recalls of cosmetics but does monitor companies that conduct a product recall.
The FD&C Act does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety, nor does the Act subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval. However, the agency has consistently advised cosmetic manufacturers to employ whatever testing is appropriate and effective for substantiating the safety of their products. It remains the responsibility of the manufacturer to substantiate the safety of both ingredients and finished cosmetic products prior to marketing.
Animal testing by manufacturers seeking to market new products may be used to establish product safety. In some cases, after considering available alternatives, companies may determine that animal testing is necessary to assure the safety of a product or ingredient. FDA supports and adheres to the provisions of applicable laws, regulations, and policies governing animal testing, including the Animal Welfare Act and the Public Health Service Policy of Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Moreover, in all cases where animal testing is used, FDA advocates that research and testing derive the maximum amount of useful scientific information from the minimum number of animals and employ the most humane methods available within the limits of scientific capability.
The FDA and other federal government groups have encouraged Federal agencies prior to use of animals, should consider the use of scientifically valid alternative methods to whole-animal testing as well as adherence to the most humane methods available within the limits of scientific capability when animals are used for testing the safety of cosmetic products.
For related information see: FDA.gov/cosmetics.