The European Ombudsman has launched an inquiry in response to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) UK’s outrage at the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in supporting cosmetics testing on animals.
PETA’s complaint accuses the European bodies of overstepping their bounds in a shameful attempt to redefine the ban prohibiting cosmetics testing on animals. The EU Cosmetics Regulation bans tests on animals for cosmetics as well as the sale of cosmetics and ingredients that have been tested on animals anywhere in the world. Yet a flawed interpretation of the law by these regulatory authorities means that animals continue to die in tests of cosmetics ingredients.
Using the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation – the world’s largest chemical-testing programme – as an excuse, the European Commission and ECHA, the agency responsible for administering REACH, have decided they will allow tests on animals for chemicals used exclusively in cosmetics when manufacturing workers may be exposed. For chemicals used in both cosmetics and other types of products, tests on animals are also permitted in a number of scenarios, violating both the Cosmetics and REACH Regulations, which are clear that animals should not die for new cosmetics products.
The REACH regulation states that it applies without prejudice to the Cosmetics Regulation, meaning that REACH may not be used to circumvent the animal-testing ban. Additionally, the European Commission is not authorised to introduce exemptions to the ban.
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“Consumers are being given a false impression about the cruelty-free status of products when in fact companies may be testing ingredients on animals”, says PETA science policy advisor Dr Julia Baines. “With potentially thousands of animals’ lives at stake, we trust that the Ombudsman will agree that the authorities have gone beyond their remit in interpreting and applying the law. The purpose of the Cosmetics Regulation – which aims to ensure the safety of cosmetics products and ingredients using only humane, non-animal methods – must be maintained.”
Copies of PETA’s complaint and relevant correspondence are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.