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Animal Cosmetics Testing at Issue Again in the EU

Some beauty companies and the Humane Society International jointly published a statement decrying animal tests being required to prove worker safety.

PARIS ­— Several major beauty players jointly published a statement Tuesday to voice opposition to European Union rules they believe undermine the EU’s longstanding ban on cosmetics testing on animals.

Bringing the subject to the fore is a case involving German fragrance and flavors supplier Symrise and the European Chemicals Agency, or ECHA, dating back to March 2018.

That’s when the ECHA ruled Symrise must carry out some toxicity tests on animals concerning two chemical ingredients used only in sunscreens.

Humane Society International — which it said penned the statement alongside companies such as Avon, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Lush — wrote in a separate release also issued Tuesday that the requirements had been made “to fulfill ‘tick-box’ registration requirements for worker safety under the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation.”

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Symrise appealed, but that appeal was rejected in August.

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“[It’s] a decision that sets such a dangerous precedent for cosmetic animal testing that the leading companies and campaigners decided to issue their public, joint opposition,” the HSI statement said.

Symrise has reportedly subsequently launched two cases to annul the August ruling.

The sale of cosmetics tested on animals has been disallowed in the EU since 2013. That came after a ban on animal testing for ingredients in 2009 and for finished cosmetics products in 2004.

But the REACH regulation in 2006 requires animal testing in some instances, including to protect long-term worker health and safety.

“The EU’s historic cosmetic animal testing and trade bans created a model for responsible innovation — the opportunity for companies to produce new, safe products without new animal testing,” said the statement, which was published on the HSI’s Animal-Free Safety Assessment Collaboration site. “This model is a win-win-win for business, consumers and animals, and has enjoyed widespread public support, paving the way for similar animal testing bans in 40 countries across the globe.

“Yet, this celebrated EU success story is now being undermined by the European Chemicals Agency and its Board of Appeal, with no reaction yet from the European Commission, through demands for new animal testing of substances used exclusively as cosmetics ingredients,” it said. “This continues the trend of systematically requesting unnecessary animal data despite a legal obligation to promote non-animal methods.”

These days, beauty companies often test their cosmetics on laboratory-grown reconstructed skin.

The statement said the ECHA-required tests will result in thousands of animals suffering and death, and aren’t needed to ensure worker protection.

“ASFA Collaboration partners from the cosmetics sector join HSI in calling on EU institutions to ensure the essence of the cosmetics regulation ban on animal testing remains strong, and for EU science and regulatory leaders to work with us to formalize a process for animal-free occupational safety assessment,” the statement said. “The future of chemical safety assessment is animal-free.”

“We are deeply concerned that these two chemical ingredients could be just the tip of the iceberg, with the EU Chemicals Agency and some member states demanding new animal tests for cosmetics at a time when the rest of the world is taking action to eliminate them,” Marina Pereira, HSI’s regulatory science adviser, said in the statement. “Chemical authorities need to urgently shift their perspective to embrace 21st-century science instead of dragging us back to cruel and outdated animal tests.”