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L’Oréal: animal testing alternatives vital but ensuring product safety is a MUST

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 19-Dec-2012
Last updated the 19-Dec-2012 at 12:47 GMT

2012 has seen a big focus on animal testing in the cosmetics industry particularly with the proposed marketing ban coming into play in Europe next year. Whilst companies want to get rid of the practice from industry, it still needs to ensure the safety of its products, according to L’Oréal.

Earlier this year, the European trade association, Cosmetics Europe, stated that progress is being made and that animal testing needs to be phased out, but only once safe alternatives have been developed.

As one of the industry’s big boys, L’Oréal echoes this sentiment, and believes that a balance must be found to make progress.

“We are committed to only market products whose safety has been proven,” says the French firm. “To do so, we have to be able to verify that there are no potential adverse effects when using any of our products.”

Alternatives investment

With this in mind, L’Oréal’s animal testing policy states its ambition is to replace the need for any animal testing, and has seen the company invest €900 million in international research on alternatives, production sites for reconstructed tissues and tissue models in the last three decades.

“L’Oréal is working hard to close that gap, by pursuing advanced research and developing cutting-edge technology, but the solution will also come from the collective work and shared intelligence of regulatory agencies and academic institutions,” it says.

“Our ambition is to replace ALL animal testing. L’Oréal has chartered a new course for predictive evaluation which will one day allow us to end animal testing and continue to advance the science of beauty.”

This worldwide centre was set up near Lyon and produces 130,000 skin models per year. It permits it to test over a thousand L’Oreal products for safety per year, and also commercializes its skin models to other companies of other sectors.

Still not gone completely

Despite this progress, there are some cases in which the Paris-based company will resort to some animal testing on new ingredients to ensure full safety; but this represents less than one per cent of its safety assessments.

“If the authorities require safety data and there are alternatives available to testing, the Group uses those alternative methods. However, where no alternatives are available, animal tests are done as a last resort,” says the statement.

It is also a unique scenario in the specific case of China as the regulatory authorities continue to require tests on animals, which they carry out for all cosmetics products before they are placed on their market.

There is work in progress to try and eradicate this practice, but means that L’Oréal will still abide by local regulations.

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