Position Statement: Use of Animals for Testing Cosmetics and Household Products
The SF SPCA advocates for a ban on the use of animals to test cosmetics and household products. Acceptable, effective alternatives are available to ensure that products are safe, includingi:
- Reliance on existing natural or synthetic ingredients, compounds and substances, which have already been extensively tested on animals;
- Avoiding novel ingredients or combinations of ingredients that have not been fully tested and may not be safe;
- Testing on human volunteers/clinical trials;
- Computer modeling; and
- Artificial human tissue such as EpiSkin or EpiDerm
Companies such as the BodyShop and Avon successfully develop and market products without animal testing and the European Union has already put a ban on testing in place.
It is difficult to estimate the number of animals used to test cosmetics and household products. However, the EU (which has a similar sized economy) used approximately 6,000 in 2005 for cosmetics aloneii.
Public backlash has caused most cosmetics and other manufacturers to claim that their products are not tested on animals. Despite this pressure, testing still occurs. Individual ingredients or finished products are often tested on rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats and other animals. The so-called Draize Test, devised in 1944 by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) toxicologist John H. Draize to evaluate the risks of normal short-term exposure to new cosmetics and other personal care products, is still used today by some companies. Describes Scientific American, “The test involves applying a small amount of the substance under study to an animal’s eye or skin for several hours, and then observing whether or not irritation occurs over the following week or two. In most cases the animal subjects—usually albino rabbits bred for the lab—are put to death after the sometimes maiming and often painful test.”iii
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Testing of cosmetics on animals is banned in the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands. The European Union is currently phasing in a near-total ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics and has banned the testing of cosmetics on animals, though France (home to some of the world’s largest cosmetics companies) is challenging the law in the courts.
In the United States, there are no laws protecting animals from cosmetics testing. On the contrary, stringent consumer protection laws often force companies to do animal testing to avoid liability.
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i. HSUS, Wikipedia
ii.Nature, March 11, 2009
iii.Scientific American, August 6, 2009
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