PARIS — Rather than possibly compromise its cruelty-free policy, The Body Shop has temporarily removed its products from two Chinese airports.
The move comes after Choice, an Australian consumer site, published a report saying that The Body Shop has entered China, selling its products in duty-free shops in Beijing and Shanghai airports.
According to Chinese law, imported cosmetics must be tested on animals. Yet the regulation reportedly differs for duty-free stores. Attributing the information to Chinese industry sources, Choice said, “While no exemptions are specified in the legislation, cosmetics sold exclusively in duty-free stores do not have to undergo mandatory testing before being sold in China.”
Still Chinese law dictates that the government can randomly take cosmetics from retailers’ shelves and conduct post-market tests on them — possibly including animal testing — to gauge conformity with sanctioned formulas.
“We are aware of the Choice report and subsequent articles about our products being sold in the duty-free stores of two Chinese airports and questions of Chinese regulation of animal testing,” according to a spokeswoman from The Body Shop, which is owned by L’Oréal. “We, The Body Shop, have not and will not undertake or resort to any animal testing in order for our products to be sold in any country.
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“However, given the questions that have arisen, we have temporarily removed the products until we can clarify the situation,” she continued. “In all cases, The Body Shop will not sell products if it would compromise one of our core beliefs, which is our opposition to animal testing.”
Chinese legislation on its mandatory animal testing requirements for certain cosmetics products is on the cusp of change.
China’s Food and Drug Administration in November said that after June 2014 it plans to remove such obligations for “non-special use cosmetics,” like shampoo or perfume, made within its own borders. For such items there will be the option to substantiate product safety using existing data for raw ingredients or European Union-validated non-animal tests instead of having to submit product samples to the Chinese government for testing on rabbits, mice and rats.
“It is not clear when the current compulsory animal test will also be removed for imported cosmetics or special use cosmetics produced in China,” said the Chemical Inspection and Regulation Service on its Web site, referring to product categories such as hair regrowth, removal, dye and permanent wave products; antiperspirant, slimmers and sunscreen.