UK government denies lifting 25-year cosmetics animal testing ban but animal campaigners unconvinced | Totally Vegan Buzz
Virginia becomes 4th US state to ban animal testing for cosmetics
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Following concerns sparked by a recent EU rule change, the PM released a statement that ruled out lifting the UK’s ban on animal testing for cosmetic products.

Animal rights groups have raised concerns that the government has secretly abandoned the UK’s ban on animal testing for cosmetics.

It comes after the government informed that it has changed policy to match rules in the European Union (EU), a group of countries that the UK left in 2020.

The tests in question fall under EU chemical rules which state new chemicals necessitate animal testing to verify their safety for workers’ use.


The policy change received significant backlash from Cruelty Free International (CFI), as well as several notable beauty and cosmetic companies.

The non-profit said it was “outrageous” and brought a legal challenge against the government for the changes to cosmetics testing regulations.

However, in the judicial review, the High Court agreed with the Home Office’s interpretation of the EU legislation and ruled that the government was not changing the country’s 1998 policy ban on cosmetics animal testing. 

It added that chemical safety laws, inherited from the EU, require testing to take place.  

In 2020, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which is responsible for regulating chemicals in the EU, mandated that companies must conduct animal testing for certain ingredients such as homosalate, which is a common sunscreen ingredient used already in many foundations and skincare products.

While the high court dismissed CFI’s complaint it expressed deep regret that the public had not been informed about the change in policy.

Reinstate the ban on animal testing

During the case hearing, it also emerged that the Home Office has been issuing licences since 2019 for animal testing of cosmetic ingredients in line with EU chemical rules.

The information sparked outrage among animal rights activists. They argued that animal welfare should never be compromised in the pursuit of beauty or worker safety.

“The case shows clearly that [the government] was prioritising the interests of contract-testing companies over those of animals and the wishes of the vast majority of British people who are strongly opposed to cosmetics testing,” Cruelty Free International CEO Michelle Thew said.

As part of the ruling, the High Court judge also told that the government could still implement a complete ban on animal testing for cosmetics if it chose to do so.

More than 80 brands, including Body Shop and Boots, expressed their dismay at the government’s decision to apparently allow animal testing for makeup ingredients and have joined hands with animal rights organisations to call on the government to reinstate the ban on animal testing.


Government response

To address this issue, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman in a statement categorically ruled out diluting UK’s ban on animal testing for cosmetic products.

“The ban on using animals to test cosmetic products or ingredients for the consumer remains completely in force,” he said.

“There are absolutely no plans to change that.

“It also remains the case that it is unlawful for any business to sell cosmetic products or their ingredients that have been tested for the consumer on animals.

“So to be crystal clear this is never going to happen.

“Any changes in EU law on this will not impact our position.”

He further added:  “There will be no weakening on our position on animal testing and indeed we have some of the highest animal welfare standards and are exploring ways to enhance our position as a leader on animal welfare.”

UK slavishly following the EU

 In the past, the UK only allowed animal testing if the benefits gained from the research outweighed any animal suffering, for example for medicines.

CFI added: “The Government does not have to slavishly follow legislation coming from the EU. It should do what the overwhelming majority of British people want.”

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