As the cruelty-free world changes, and the cruelty-free stance of brands can change for better or worse, it’s always exciting to hear positive news. Today I got some exciting news from my friends at Humane Society International that I wanted to share with you! In China, where animal testing on cosmetics is currently required by law, they have released a proposal that would introduce a new in vitro test that could help reduce animal testing!
These in vitro tests are used in many other regions to show that cosmetic ingredients are safe to use, but are not yet generally recognized in China. In fact, testing on animals is required in China. This is the case for ingredients, as well as finished products and even products that are on the market in China. While there are some ways that brands can sell in China and remain cruelty-free, such as selling in Hong Kong only or importing via mail to China, there are few brands successfully selling in China while remaining cruelty-free.
While this proposal does not mean that cosmetics sold in China are now cruelty-free, it is still very exciting to see China take another small step to potentially reduce animal testing. It’s estimated that over 300,000 animals were used for animal testing in 2015. Any reduction in this number is worth encouraging, and all of these small steps will hopefully lead to a cruelty-free future in China.
I have written a lot of posts about animal testing and China, so please read the archives here for more details on brands selling in China and what it means about their cruelty-free status.
The full press release from Humane Society International is located below. I appreciate all of the hard work that they put into their cruelty-free efforts!
Chinese cosmetic authority moves to adopt first contemporary animal testing alternative
Humane Society International welcomes NIFDC proposal for alternative skin test
(29 Aug. 2016)—Humane Society International is praising a significant move by Chinese authorities away from an almost exclusively animal testing paradigm for cosmetics. The National Institutes for Food and Drug Control released a proposal for a new in vitro test standard for cosmetic ingredients as part of China’s ongoing efforts to align its regulatory frameworks with those of key international trading partners, providing technology supporting future trade in cosmetics, and further developing Chinese programs and infrastructures for non-animal test method development and validation.
HSI’s director of research & toxicology, Troy Seidle, said: “It is encouraging to see Chinese cosmetics authorities begin to embrace internationally recognized in vitro methods for cosmetic safety. Continued movement in this direction would be beneficial not only for animal welfare, but also consumer safety, scientific and technological development, and global trade.”
The alternative method, “In Vitro Skin Corrosion: Transcutaneous Electrical Resistance”, was declared scientifically valid in 1998 by the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods, and adopted in 2004 as an internationally harmonized test guideline of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It has since undergone Chinese laboratory optimization by the NIFDC, the Beijing Institute for Drug Control, the Zhejiang Institute for Food and Drug Control, and the Guangdong Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
China currently requires pre-market eye and skin testing on animals for all imported and special-use cosmetics, as well as for all cosmetic ingredients, even where existing data from internationally recognized non-animal test methods are available. HSI estimates that as many as 375,000 animals may have been used to meet Chinese pre-market test requirements in 2015 alone. Accelerated adoption of available OECD non-animal tests for eye and skin irritation, skin allergy, phototoxicity and other cosmetic endpoints could reduce this number dramatically.
HSI has provided more than $150,000 in direct funding to support national conferences, educational seminars and in-lab training in OECD alternative tests for Chinese authorities, companies and other stakeholders. The organization also recently signed a collaboration agreement with Guangzhou CHN-ALT Biotech Co. Ltd. to support an ongoing program of education and training in China in the application of superior non-animal testing tools for safety assessment of cosmetics, chemicals and other regulated products.