By  on June 15, 2007

ALBANY, N.Y. — Cosmetics manufacturers and ingredient suppliers will be prohibited from conducting any test that involves the placing of a cosmetic, or cosmetic ingredient, in an animal's eye or on an animal's skin to measure its irritant effects, according to legislation that has passed the state assembly here.

"The FDA [U.S. Food & Drug Administration], which regulates the cosmetic industry, does not require the use of animals for safety testing, though some manufacturers continue with the practice," said Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal (D., New York), the sponsor of the legislation. "Alternatives to the use of animals for eye and skin irritancy tests of cosmetics and their ingredients are widely available and in use by many corporations, including Avon, Noxell, Revlon, Redken, Paul Mitchell, Faberge and Mary Kay."

One of the most commonly used irritancy tests, the Draize eye test on rabbits, has been criticized as unreliable and highly subjective. A study by Carnegie Mellon University scientists have found that 24 laboratories in which Draize tested the same substances reported highly variable results, both between laboratories and within the same laboratories.

Some alternative tests used include the Neutral Red Bioassay, a test using human cell cultures; the CAM test, which uses the membrane of fertilized chicken eggs; the Eyetex system, which uses a compound of proteins that resembles the composition of the human eye; Skintex, similar to Eyetex, using human skin cell cultures, and TOPKAT, a software package that uses computer simulation models.

"It must be emphasized that the use of animals to test for eye and skin irritancy of cosmetic products causes excruciating pain and suffering to animals," said State Sen. Liz Krueger (D., New York). "For example, in the Draize eye test, several rabbits are used in each test, which involves keeping the rabbits in stocks, pouring the test substance in their eyes and observing and evaluating over a two-week period the redness, swelling, hemorrhaging and corrosion. After the test evaluation, the rabbits are either killed or used in another test."

"Given that alternative testing methods are available for cosmetic manufacturers and ingredient suppliers, there is no justification to allow the further use of animals for the purpose of testing the irritancy of cosmetic products and their ingredients," said Rosenthal.

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