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Animal Testing in China

In June 2014, China is due to loosen its regulations surrounding animal testing for cosmetics. The Chinese SFDA (State Food and Drug Administration) has released a draft five-year plan approving the use of existing data for raw ingredients or internationally validated non-animal tests. 

This is a big step in the right direction as China’s current regulations are delaying global efforts to prevent animals from suffering simply to bring new cosmetics onto the market.  As long as the SFDA keeps its promise, thousands of animals will be spared unnecessary suffering.  All being well, China’s draft proposal will align its cosmetics testing policy with that of Europe, Israel and India, where animal testing for cosmetic purposes is already banned.  However, the change is only set to apply to domestically produced, “non-special use” cosmetics, such as shampoo, soap, perfume and certain skin products.

The country’s current regulations require every new cosmetic product, as well as raw ingredients, intended for sale in China to be tested on live animals in a government laboratory before being made available to Chinese consumers. 

Until the law is changed, those companies truly committed to cruelty free production of cosmetics and toiletries have been unable to tap into China’s booming cosmetics industry, which is now one of the largest in the world.  It’s little wonder companies are lining up for some of the action! 

Chinese cosmetics companies, as well as international companies selling products in China, now have a major decision to make.  Since the full EU cosmetics testing ban came into force in March 2013, the sale of newly animal-tested cosmetics in the EU has been banned.   The combination of a requirement to test cosmetics on animals to sell products in China, and a ban on testing to sell new cosmetics in the EU has created a dilemma for multinational companies – they must choose between two contradictory requirements and be shut out of one market or the other.

Some high profile cosmetic brands are no longer endorsed by Naturewatch as cruelty free due to their decision to expand into China.  These companies clearly care more about increasing their profits than losing the custom of compassionate shoppers!  Other companies are doing their best to deceive consumers by telling them that they only test on animals when necessary; in other words, they DO test on animals.  And some companies are even prepared to tell blatant lies in order to increase their profits!

Many of the companies that have chosen to expand into China say they are now in a better position to campaign to work with the Chinese government and therefore have more of a chance of making a difference.  However, the fact remains that these companies aren’t just agreeing to animal testing but are actively funding it, as companies which sell their products in China have to agree to pay for their products to be tested on animals. 

Whilst we understand that the Chinese market is tempting, in our opinion, companies should say NO until the animal testing requirement is removed.   We believe that taking the decision not to expand into China until the government changes the current regulations would send a much stronger message.  

Companies that place a higher value upon their cruelty free credentials and say NO to selling their products in China are showing that the beauty business can thrive without causing animal suffering.