EC stands by ECHA rulings for animal data on cosmetic ingredients under REACH

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

The European Commission says the rulings were 'fully in line' with REACH Regulation and its own 2013 official communication on the animal testing and marketing ban in relation to alternative methods in the field of cosmetics (Getty Images)
The European Commission says the rulings were 'fully in line' with REACH Regulation and its own 2013 official communication on the animal testing and marketing ban in relation to alternative methods in the field of cosmetics (Getty Images)

Related tags: Animal testing, Animal testing ban, Animal testing alternatives, ECHA, European commission, REACH

The European Commission (EC) stands by its endorsement of calls made by the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) Board of Appeal for animal data to verify worker safety of two cosmetic ingredients, despite a recent industry-signed open letter damning such support.

Back in August 2020, ECHA’s Board of Appeal upheld two rulings that German supplier Symrise provide additional animal data to prove the occupational safety for workers of homosalate and 2-ethylhexyl salicylate – two ingredients destined exclusively for sunscreen formulations. Symrise had since issued two actions for annulment; a move leading animal welfare group PETA said it would support.

Beauty industry publicly challenges rulings

These Board of Appeal rulings had proven central in recent months to a series of public challenges from the beauty industry and animal welfare groups against ECHA and the Commission.

Most notably, last month, several beauty majors signed an open letter published by Humane International claiming ECHA was undermining the EU animal testing ban on cosmetics​ with these rulings – a claim the agency refuted – and earlier this week 400+ beauty companies, retailers and non-profits signed a letter addressed to the European Commission, Parliament and Council calling for the EU animal testing ban to be “upheld as intended​, with no new tests on animals allowed”. ​The last letter said the EU animal testing ban had been “effectively shredded”​ with these rulings.

European Commission stands by support of ECHA Board of Appeal rulings

CosmeticsDesign-Europe contacted the European Commission (EC) to obtain a response to the open letter which had been addressed to David Maria Sassoli, president of the European Parliament; Charles Michel, president of the European Council; and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.

The EC said it would reply to the letter in due course but in the meantime directed us to its most recent public response on the matter​ supporting ECHA’s Board of Appeal rulings – dated November 20, 2020 before receipt of the open letter – noting this was the EC's position on the subject.

Responding to a priority European Parliament question in the response, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, said the two Board of Appeal (BoA) decisions were “fully in line” ​with ECHA’s REACH regulation and the EC’s 2013 official communication​ on the animal testing and marketing ban in relation to alternative methods in the field of cosmetics.

Breton said that whilst the EU Cosmetics Regulation No. 1223/2009​ assured the safe use of cosmetic products for consumers, it did not cover risks arising for worker exposure of chemical ingredients used in cosmetics or emissions into the environment. This, instead, was covered under REACH Regulation​.

European Commission continues to work towards animal testing phase-out

Despite the call for animal data on these two rulings – the first two cases since the 2013 cosmetic animal testing ban, he said – Breton added: “The promotion of alternative methods to animal testing is one of the objectives of REACH and the test on vertebrates is only acceptable as a last resort."

"The Commission shares the conviction that animal testing should be phased out in the EU and continues to work towards this goal,” ​he said.

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