The ‘Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe Without Animal Testing’ initiative was submitted to the Commission on 25 January 2023, after having gathered 1,217,916 verified statements of support. The initiative was debated at the European Parliament’s plenary session on 10 July 2023. The Commission adopted a Communication on 25 July 2023 setting out its response to this initiative.

EU and UK Regulation Framework

Animal testing was banned in the EU for cosmetic products in 2004 and for cosmetic ingredients in 2009. Article 20 of the EU regulation 1223/2009 explains the important criteria to make an acceptable claim in the EU. This regulation unequivocally prohibits the marketing of cosmetic products tested on animals, as well as the performance of animal tests on finished cosmetic products and combinations of ingredients. Consequently, products marketed in the EU are considered “cruelty-free” and “Not tested on animals” since 2013.

However, it’s important to note that there was a lack of specific legislative measures on chemicals (e.g. REACH, Biocides Regulation, Regulation on Plant Protection Products and Medicinal Products for Human and Veterinary Use). In a bid to further cement the vision of a “CRUELTY FREE: EUROPE WITHOUT ANIMAL TESTING”, the Commission will launch a new roadmap with a set of legislative and non-legislative actions to further reduce animal testing, and promoting alternative methods to animal testing in these fields.

The Commission has committed to various actions in response to the European Citizens’ Initiative.

These actions encompass:

  • Protect and strengthen the cosmetics animal testing ban: The Commission reaffirms the existing EU Cosmetics Regulation’s prohibition on the marketing of cosmetics tested on animals. However, the ban does not cover safety tests required under REACH. The interface between the two pieces of legislation is currently being assessed in two cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Commission will consider the outcome of the court cases in view of any future potential legislative changes.

  • Transform EU chemicals legislation: The Commission is working collaboratively with relevant stakeholders to develop a roadmap for animal-free safety assessments in chemical regulations, reinforcing its commitment to reducing and ultimately eliminating animal testing in the context of chemicals legislation within the European Union.

  • Modernise science in the EU: While the Commission does not share the view that a legislative proposal is required to reach the goal of phasing out the use of animals in research, training, and education, it will continue to strongly support the development of alternative approaches with appropriate funding. The Commission is also proposing to initiate a series of actions to accelerate the reduction of animal testing in research, education, and training, including exploring the possibility of coordinating the activities of the Member States and national authorities in this field, exploratory workshops, and sustaining new training initiatives for early career scientists.

Nationwide Ban across the United States

The FDA is responsible for assuring that cosmetics are safe and properly labelled. The Food and Drugs Act (FDA) does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety, they support the development and use of alternatives to animal testing. Currently there is no prohibition to ban animal testing in cosmetics.

In a massive step forward, California and Canada join the European Union, United Kingdom, India, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and a total of 43 other countries that have already amended the law to prohibit the sale of cosmetics developed and manufactured using ingredients tested on animal testing.

How does it affect the Cosmetics industry and consumer perception?

In cosmetics is not allowed testing on animals according to EU Regulation 1223/2009. This is especially reflected in the total ban on animal testing for cosmetics, in force in the EU since 2013.  Therefore, “Not tested on animal” or “Cruelty Free” claim can be considered as misleading to consumers, since none of the products being placed on the market are allowed to be tested on animals. Hence, based on the technical guideline it would be against the principle of truthful criteria. Therefore, the Commission commitment emphasises the EU Cosmetics Regulation of prohibition testing on animals.

Some European authorities are likely to take legal actions, including fines, against such claims.

Currently, due to social networks and the press for a bad analysis of the information, there are many doubts and mistrust about the “Cruelty Free”. As a consequence, the final consumer is still unclear about which products are free of animal cruelty, but we must be certain that all cosmetic products we buy in Europe are “Cruelty Free”.  However, there are some states in US that don’t allow the sale of beauty products tested on animals.  

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