This Legal Change Could Threaten the EU Ban on Sales of Animal-Tested Cosmetics

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Most people understand what is meant by a marketing ban: that certain goods are not allowed to be sold – right? Wrong, at least according to EU Court of Justice Advocate General Michal Bobek. Last week, Bobek provided the European Court with his legal opinion in response to a judicial review of the marketing ban on cosmetics tested on animals. The case had been prompted by the European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients.

No excuse for experimening on animals for make-up

Bobek advised that cosmetics products and their ingredients that have been tested on animals outside the EU can be placed on the EU market. Yet this advice flouts the purpose of the Cosmetics Regulation, which is to ensure the safety of cosmetics products and their ingredients exclusively through the use of humane non-animal methods.

Few things are more despicable than tormenting animals to create another shade of lipstick. Today, we recognise that an animal’s life is worth more than a tube of lip gloss – and rightly so. That’s why people everywhere celebrated in 2013 when the ban on cosmetics tests on animals – as well as, notably, on sales of cosmetics tested on animals – came into full force.

Yet Bobek would effectively destroy the hard-fought marketing ban. Cosmetics products and their ingredients which are injected into guinea pigs, forced down the throats of rats or dripped into rabbits’ eyes in countries such as China would, according to his assessment, be permitted on the EU market. The only caveat would be that companies wouldn’t be able to rely on the data derived from the tests on animals to demonstrate the safety of cosmetics for human health. How ludicrous that animals’ pain, suffering and death would be allowed to be ignored as long as companies also presented data from humane non-animal tests! What good would that do for the rabbits who have mascara smeared into their eyes or the guinea pigs injected with shampoo ingredients? Talk about taking one step forward and two giant steps backward.

If the court follows Bobek’s disgraceful advice, it would also mean that consumers who assume products purchased within the EU are cruelty-free will be misled, since companies will be allowed to market and even label products as cruelty-free, even when, in reality, their production caused animal suffering.

The court should reject Bobek’s opinion and uphold the purpose of the Cosmetics Regulation by ensuring that cosmetics products and their ingredients marketed in Europe are never tested on animals under any circumstances anywhere in the world. To do otherwise would render the ban meaningless.

In the meantime, consumers can ensure that they’re shopping truly cruelty-free by checking the PETA US online list of companies that do and that don’t test on animals.

You can also sign our petition to UK officials, asking them to investigate evidence suggesting that major cosmetics companies could be selling animal-tested products right here in the UK. 

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