By Dr Jennifer Semple, the Innovation & Education Manager at Accord Australasia Limited
Product safety is the number one priority for the cosmetic industry. As for many other industries that provide products for human use―such as the pharmaceutical, food and other chemical industries―animal testing has historically been one important source of data for the cosmetics industry to demonstrate product safety. However, animal testing for ingredients used in cosmetic products is no longer permitted in some jurisdictions, such as the European Union, India, Israel and Norway.
And, since 1 July 2020, Australia.
This means that new cosmetic ingredients manufactured in, or imported into, Australia will not be able to use data or information from animal tests conducted from this date to demonstrate safety.
The ban is set out in and regulated by the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019 (Cth), the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), and the Industrial Chemicals (General) Rules 2019 (Cth).
Supporting the ban on use of new animal test data for ingredients used in cosmetics is a ban on conducting any animal tests in Australia for cosmetic products. This is being implemented via the National Health and Medical Research Council’s ‘Animal Ethics Code’.
REPLACEMENTS FOR ANIMAL TEST DATA
The cosmetic industry has been a driving force in the development of effective alternatives to animal testing methods―well beyond what is proportional in terms of the industry’s turnover or actual animal use. (The pharmaceutical industry has been and is by far the greatest user of animals for research and development and regulatory testing purposes, accounting for 50% of animal use in the EU in 2005 in comparison to 0.05% of animal use by the cosmetics industry.)
Validated and accepted alternative test methods for assessing and demonstrating the suitability of new ingredients include in vitro, ex vivo, in vivo (human), in chemico and in silico methods. Other options to demonstrate the safety of new ingredients include through use of historical data, read-across from data on similar ingredients, justifying the absence of data, and combining data from various sources.
AUSTRALIA’S VOLUNTARY CODE ON ANIMAL TESTING AND COSMETICS
The Australian cosmetics industry―through Accord―is working with the federal Health Department to develop a Voluntary Code of Practice for the Cosmetic Industry in Australia for the ban on testing cosmetics on animals.
The Code is being developed to address findings from community and key stakeholder consultation undertaken by the Australian Government prior to introducing the animal testing ban. This research revealed a lack of available information about animal testing for cosmetics in Australia, confusion around the practices and terminology used regarding animal testing, and a need for greater transparency regarding on-pack information.
For example, many of the terms and symbols currently being used in relation to animal testing have no clear meaning. What do ‘Cruelty Free’ and ‘Against animal testing’ really mean? And consumers need greater clarity on the various ‘bunny’ logos out there, many of which are managed and run by animal welfare organisations. Additionally, other claims such as the product being natural, organic or plant-based cannot necessarily be read as meaning a product has not been tested on animals.
Accordingly, the Voluntary Code aims to provide the industry and consumers with clarity on the meaning of various claims about animal testing in relation to cosmetics, including by:
• explaining the laws about the use of animal test data in the cosmetic industry
• defining terms used in relation to animal tests
• providing guidance on the use of advertising claims.
Cosmetic companies and the retailers of cosmetic products will be able to refer to the Code for best practice guidance on product marketing claims related to animal testing. Ultimately, the Code will help provide greater clarity for consumers so they can better understand animal testing claims being made on products.
Accord will provide more information to the industry on the Code following its finalisation.
This article was first published in the Summer 2020 issue of esprit.