Cosmetics Europe brands ‘cruelty-free’ cosmetics claims misleading


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The personal care trade association has called for the elimination of ‘cruelty-free’ claims found on some cosmetics products saying that it misleads the public and undermines on-going work to find alternatives to animal testing.

Cosmetics Europe has once again reiterated its commitment to find viable alternatives to animal testing in the industry and claims this work is being undermined.

The statement comes after it had denounced ‘Cruelty-Free Beauty Day’ in the European Parliament on December 6 last week suggesting that branding products as ’cruelty-free’ is misleading policymakers and public.

Undermines ‘real’ work

Furthermore, the industry body says it undermines the real work in developing viable alternative methods to fully eliminate animal testing for ingredients in cosmetics.

“Using ‘cruelty-free’ branding to promote cosmetics can lead consumers to believe that the product and its ingredients do not rely on any safety data established on animals,” ​says Bertil Heerink, director-general of Cosmetics Europe.

“The reality is that the safety of virtually all ingredients in cosmetic products - including those branded ‘cruelty-free’ - is built on data previously established on animals.”

He continues; “Indeed, many products making these claims contain ingredients safety-tested on animals as recently as three to five years ago. Had the mandatory safety tests not been undertaken by others, these manufacturers would have no ingredients available for their ‘cruelty-free’ products.”

Claim kerfuffle

Heerink says that the only beneficiaries of promoting products as ‘cruelty-free’ are those companies which are not fully transparent towards their customers about the safety data they rely upon; which leads to both consumers and those committed to finding viable alternatives to animal testing, losing out.

Cosmetics Europe also draws on the European Commission’s own Recommendation from 2006, on claims on the absence of tests on animals, saying that it is clear that the use of claims for a cosmetic product should not mislead the consumer.

They should rather gain insight to be able to make an informed choice as a result of the ‘not tested on animals’ labelling claim. 

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