Animal testing in the cosmetic industry came about after an eyelash darkening treatment blinded several women in the early 1930s. After this event, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration passed the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. It did not specify the use of animals, but required stricter regulations and safety testing of cosmetics. At the time, animal testing was common practice, so the cosmetics industry relied heavily on animal experiments ever since.
Today, the need for animal testing is under question and is leading to a growing public outrage over the treatment and fate of laboratory animals. In the cosmetics industry, mice, rabbits, and rats are subject to allergy testing in their mucous membranes. The insides of their eyes, noses, and mouths are used to test for potential irritation, burning, and corrosion caused by cosmetic ingredients. Approximately half of the animals involved in testing die in lethal dose tests. Moreover, animal testing has been found to be time consuming, expensive, and often ineffective.
So, with the knowledge we have today and the alternative technologies, is animal testing in the cosmetics industry even really necessary?What are we doing to change the practice in Canada?
Recently, there has been an increase in the number of bans on abusive and cruel practices against animals. The majority of Canadians (~80%) support making the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals illegal. This will officially be the case very soon as Canada joins the likes of the European Union (EU), Norway, India, and Israel to become the 40th country to ban cosmetic testing on animals.
Federal Bill S-214, the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, amends the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit the testing of cosmetics on animals and the sales of cosmetics that use animal testing. Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen first introduced the Bill in partnership with the Humane Society International and the Animal Alliance of Canada. The first reading in the Senate was in December 2015. Bill S-214 has since passed the Senate, but must pass the House of Commons before becoming law. Its first reading in the House was in April 2019.
This has come after Canadians consistently protesting, petitioning, and spreading awareness on the issue. Companies such as Lush and The Body Shop who promote awareness and sell products that are 100% cruelty free have helped Canadians be heard by having in-store petitions citizens could sign. In May 2018, The Body Shop held a rally bringing animal activists to Parliament Hill to present parliamentarians with a petition having over 630 thousand signatures. This is the largest petition in Canadian history since the Bill of Rights 60 years ago.The first complete ban on animal testing in cosmetics was by the EU in 2013.
The EU consists of 28 member states. In 2004, it banned the testing of finished animals products. Animal tested ingredients were banned in 2008. On March 11th, 2013, the EU announced a ban on the import and sale of cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals. To further support the cause, they also pledged to push other parts of the world to do the same.
Following the EU, Norway announced their ban on animal testing. Israel became the third country to ban the import, marketing, and sale of cosmetics and their ingredients whose manufacturing processes involved animal testing. India was the first Asian country to invoke a ban. This was prompted by several petitions to end animal testing on household products and their ingredients. India has made using a non-animal testing alternatives mandatory. Animal testing is now liable to a punishment of 3-10 years in addition to a hefty fine! In the U.S., the Human Cosmetics Act has banned animal testing after a 1-year phase-in and will follow with a 3-year phase on banning the sale of any animal tested cosmetics.
At NIUCOCO we only test our products on family and friends, and we signed on to PETA and CCIC Leaping Bunny standards from the day we launched because we believe in the ethical treatment of animals. With so many animal-free alternatives to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of cosmetic products, we believe there is no need for animal testing.