This issue first became apparent to PETA in 2012 when “PETA US exposed that cosmetics companies in the US and Europe were quietly paying for tests on animals in order to sell their products in China,” commented Dr Julia Baines, Science Policy Adviser, PETA UK
As a result, PETA UK became “increasingly concerned that these businesses were attempting to violate the European Union’s cosmetics marketing ban by selling products in the UK that had been tested on animals in China”, added Baines
Following this information, PETA sought an investigation by the relevant authorities to ensure that regulations were being adhered to.
“It’s inexcusable for animals to be subjected to experiments for cosmetics, especially when most Europeans are against using animals in this way and are entirely unaware that the cosmetics marketing ban has potentially been breached,” warned Baines.
Strengthening its case
In December 2015, PETA wrote to the UK government presenting its concerns and a dossier of evidence showing how multinational companies had registered products of the same name in China and on sale in the UK.
PETA submitted its complaint and initiated a petition that was signed by over 15,000 supporters to investigate possible illegal marketing.
PETA emphasises that to achieve registration with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), these items would have been tested on animals in CFDA laboratories and any tests carried out would have been paid for by the cosmetics companies.
A judicial review of the marketing ban was being conducted at the time and so the government did not respond requesting for an investigation.
Following the EU court ruling, PETA wrote to the government again in February 2017 and received a response on 15th March 2017 confirming that Trading Standards officials will be asked to investigate these claims.
A range of multinational brands — Benefit, Bliss, Caudalie, Clarins, Clinique, Dior, Estée Lauder, Gucci (distributed by Procter & Gamble), and Revlon — now face a probe by the UK government.
PETA commented in its recent press release, how Estée Lauder revealed it had paid for animal testing in China, while other companies haven't denied paying for them.
The varying rules in China and Europe has raised questions as PETA requests information on how these beauty brands demonstrate product safety in the EU. They also state that cosmetics companies should declare animal-testing data in their product files and that consumers should receive transparent information on the cruelty-free status of products.
As animal testing is required in China, cosmetic companies selling products both in Europe and Asia face questions relating to possible illegal marketing in violation of the Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013.
"We welcome this announcement by the government as a crucial step in determining whether cosmetics companies are violating the marketing ban on animal-tested cosmetics," said Dr Julia Baines, Science Advisor, PETA.
"It's absolutely clear that the British public doesn't want cosmetics tested on animals – and many consumers will be utterly shocked to hear that their beauty regime may be supporting such cruelty," Baines continued.
Stressing the importance of understanding the different animal testing stances in Europe and China, Baines went on to say: “Cosmetics brands including Benefit, Bliss, and Caudalie have policies on their websites which state that they do not test on animals. Yet these companies and others that market their products in China know that animals will be killed for their eye shadow or shampoo. This is an unacceptable double standard in the pursuit of profits.”
“At PETA, we’re determined to do all we can to ensure that the government fulfils both the letter and the spirit of the law by never allowing the sale in the UK of cosmetics that have been tested on animals anywhere in the world,” Baines stated.
In the second part of this article, which will be published on Monday 3rd April 2017, we will explore how product safety can be maximised through alternative testing and how companies can improve transparency and communication with consumers.