Charity FRAME kickstarts research to gauge understanding on ‘complex issue’ of animal testing

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Animal testing for cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients has been banned in the EU since 2013, but it remains a complex issue with REACH requirements (Getty Images)
Animal testing for cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients has been banned in the EU since 2013, but it remains a complex issue with REACH requirements (Getty Images)

Related tags: Animal testing, Animal testing ban, REACH, Cosmetics regulation

Medical research charity FRAME wants to gauge public and professional knowledge on animal testing in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and chemicals and hopes its survey will drive awareness on the complexity of the issue.

An online survey​ has just been launched, open to the general public and professionals to complete anonymously until the end of January 2020, and results will be analysed and published on FRAME’s website and used for education purposes and lobbying. FRAME’s end goal as a charity is to end the use of lab animals in all scientific, medical and cosmetic testing but its goal of the research is to better understand the level of knowledge on this issue.

EU animal testing ban for cosmetics versus REACH requirements

While animals, largely mice, remain extensively used for medical research and testing, the European Union implemented a ban on all animal testing for cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients under its Cosmetics Regulation in 2013. The move followed an initial ban on testing for finished products in 2004 and ingredients in 2009.

However, under the European Chemical Agency ECHA’s REACH regulation, certain aspects require or enable animal testing – notably testing for environmental endpoints like aquatic toxicity, the pre-registration of some new chemical substances and registering of chemicals used in products used outside of cosmetics. Peptides, for example, may have been tested on animals because they can be used in other products, but once integrated into a cosmetic formulation, REACH prohibits any further animal testing.

Amy Beale, scientific liaison officer at FRAME, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe it remained a “complex issue”​ for the cosmetics world, despite a clear EU ban in place, and so it was important to raise awareness and gain clarity on how much was understood.

“Rather than saying ‘there’s a ban, we can sit back and relax’, we believe there’s still more to be done​. …In terms of REACH, there is still animal testing that can occur and it’s just finding out what people know about it,” ​Beale said.

Education for the public and industry alike

FRAME logo

The survey formed part of FRAME’s wider philosophy and commitment to finding human-relevant alternatives to animal testing, along with improving public understanding on the issue.

“The results of the survey will give us fresh insights to help us provide the public with accurate information about how animals are used in research and testing and the legislation that is currently in place. We hope it will also importantly raise awareness of available alternative research techniques that can provide better knowledge and outcomes for human health,”​ Beale said.

There remained “gaps in knowledge”, ​she said, and despite scientific advances in recent years and some improvements to regulation, there were still “many misconceptions about the use of animals in testing and research”.

FRAME hoped its survey would be completed by a wide range of public and professionals alike in as many sectors as possible.

“Our main aim is education, and this applies to everyone,” ​Beale said. “…This might just be a starting point for more research in the future.”

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