Time-out for animal testing in China

China has announced this month that post-market animal testing is no longer a requirement on certain domestic or imported cosmetic products.

The widely criticised animal testing for cosmetic products produced and sold in China will no longer be required after June 30, said Chinese agency Gansu Province National Medical Products Association.

Cruelty-Free International Chief Executive Michele Thew said, “This assurance by the Chinese authorities that post-market animal testing is now not normal practice is an enormous step in the right direction.”

Ordinary products such as makeup, fragrances, hair, skin and nail care produced only for foreign export and ordinary products bought in China via a foreign e-commerce website have never required animal testing.

Animal testing in China was required for foreign and domestic ordinary products and was also required for special use products such as hair dye, deodorants, sunscreen etc.

With the new changes, domestically produced ordinary cosmetics will be exempt from mandatory animal testing, while foreign imported ordinary cosmetics and any special use cosmetics will still require testing.

Sometimes this post-market animal testing is done without the companies knowledge, according to Ethicalelephant.

Similarly, pre-market animal testing requirements are yet to be clarified for imported cosmetics, which would commonly be done by the company.

So, while animal testing is no longer as enforced by authorities, it is not entirely banned in China. Products then that claim to be cruelty-free and sold to China can still end up being tested on animals without the consumer or even company knowing.

In order for a company to be truly cruelty-free, they could be vigorous in assuring their products are not tested in China without their consent, but this option will always leave room for uncertainty.

This means that if a product or company want to be honestly cruelty-free they would have to remove themselves from the Chinese market place. BUT, China is currently the largest international cosmetic market, making up nearly 20% of the global market.

So, companies such as MAC, Nars, L’Oreal, Victoria Secret and many others will have to give up a very profitable marketplace, but would still be able to sell goods into China via foreign e-commerce websites.

Beauty Blogger Cruelty-Free Kitty pointed out that “L’Oréal is infamous for being misleading around their CF status. The brand claims that they do not test their products on animals anywhere around the world and nor do they ‘delegate this task to others.’”

However, L’Oreal’s policy states that, “An exception could be made if authorities required it for human safety or regulatory purposes.”

Following news that China would no longer require post-market testing, L’Oreal Men Experttweeted, “In China, L’Oreal is the most active company working with the authorities towards a total elimination of animal testing.”

They added that “The vast majority” of products they sell in China are not tested in China.

L’Oreal and other brands then label themselves as cruelty-free while third-party individuals may be testing their products on animals.

While this change is a step in the right direction, Michelle Thew added, “We hope that this will pave the way to actual legislative change that will benefit cruelty-free companies and the Chinese consumer as well as many thousands of animals.”

HSI estimated that as many as 500,000 animals are being tested on worldwide, with a likely majority be in China.

The HIS aims to ban animal testing for cosmetics worldwide.


Sonja Tutty

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