The EU Ban on cosmetic testing is cause for a massive celebration. But you might be wondering what it all means.
I was pretty ignorant last year as to why companies continue to test on animals and what the tests involve. Since creating My Fair Lipstick I have learnt the following:
1) Animal testing is extremely painful.
2) All animals are killed after testing.
3) In Australia, if a company tests on animals through a third party they can legally say on their packaging that they are cruelty free.
4) It is a requirement in China for all cosmetics to have animal testing. This makes it financially difficult for large companies like L’Oreal to stop their market in China.
There’s still so much to learn. So I caught up earlier in the month with Wendy Edney, the office manager of Choose Cruelty Free, to find out more.
Can you tell me a bit about how your not-for-profit organisation is run?
We are approached by and make approaches to companies professing to not test their products on animals. Companies submit answers to preliminary questions, followed by completing a Questionnaire and Application for Accreditation which is a legal document signed by Directors of the Company. Funding comes from subscription payments, donations, license fees, an annual raffle and merchandise sales.
Your guidelines are very strict. It seems to be even stricter than PETA. Why is it important to have set guidelines in place?
Yes, the CCF criteria are strict, but at the same time hundreds of companies meet our criteria with ease. Consumers are rightfully demanding to know where their products come from, how they are made, and where the money trail leads. Set guidelines are vital to ensure that when choosing a product accredited by CCF or other organisation, the consumer has visibility of exactly what the endorsement means, and the consumer can then make a choice aligned with their personal ethics and values.
How much have practices and legislation changed over the years in regards to cosmetic testing?
There have been some very exciting and positive developments as a result of scientific advances coupled with the work of dedicated lobbyists and educators.
Many cosmetic and household product companies have turned their backs on animal testing and begun taking advantage of the many sophisticated non-animal test methods available, which range from cell and tissue cultures to computerised “structure-activity relationship” models. Human cell culture tests have been found to predict toxicity in humans with much greater accuracy than animal tests.
How will the EU ban on cosmetic testing affect Australia?
It will certainly highlight the fact that Australia is way behind advances of other countries in relation to advancing the cruelty-free message and adopting best practice techniques in bringing products to market.
The EU ban is certainly a real milestone and is fundamental to CCF’s main campaign activities, however, Australians will still be able to import, buy, promote and use cosmetics and household products which have been tested on animals. For the last five years CCF has actively campaigned the Australian Government to introduce similar legislation to that of the EU
Why is important for us not to buy brands such as OPI nail polish and Body Shop who claim to be cruelty free but are owned by companies who do test on animals (L’Oreal and Coty Inc)?
At CCF we don’t believe that a company can be cruelty free if it’s owned by a parent company which still conducts animal testing. At the end of the day, the profits wind back to the parent company in one way or another and then there is no transparency as to how that money is used. By purchasing smaller cruelty free companies, massive multinational powerhouses such as L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Estee Lauder have a “feel-good” moment which they certainly don’t deserve, as they effectively dilute the no-animal-testing message and efforts of the smaller companies.
Many companies claim to be cruelty free but use third parties to run tests on animals? Wouldn’t it make sense for legislation that controlled or prevented this?
Labelling laws in Australia are sadly lacking when it comes to animal testing. There is no standard and trying to find your way through the various claims and logos is a minefield for the general public. Any company can make any claim without consequence for false statements. CCF intends this year to increase attention to labelling and packaging laws. In the meantime, buying products accredited by CCF is the way to go!
Do you think if China allowed products to be cruelty free it would lead to more companies making the switch?
We understand that the Chinese Government requires that all imported cosmetics undergo animal testing for “human safety” reasons. This has led to a handful of brave companies who don’t test on animals refusing to enter the Chinese market.
With China being one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world thousands more animals will suffer and die following cruel, painful, unreliable and unnecessary tests in the name of beauty. The best possible outcome would be for only products NOT tested on animals be permitted to be sold, in any market.
Are you hopeful that more companies will go cruelty free in the future?
Yes! We are perplexed as to what’s holding so many companies back. Apathy? Taking advantage of consumer ignorance? Fear of change?
Why do you think people buy products tested on animals? Is it ignorance? Do you think people are unaware on just how inhumane the tests are?
Most people are shocked to find out that products are still tested on animals. With no legislation in place requiring companies to declare on packaging whether or not their products (or the base ingredients) are tested on animals, consumers remain in the dark. There are also no labelling laws preventing companies from making false claims.
CCF remains committed to acting as a consumer watchdog, lobbyist and educator to help the general public make cruelty-free decisions on cosmetic, toiletry and household products they use every day.
It can be overwhelming for consumers to make the switch from cosmetics tested on animals to cruelty free. There are fewer products stocked in supermarkets and people have their favourite brands. Do you have any tips on how people can go cruelty free?
The issue of favourite brands is an important one as billions of dollars are spent by companies each year in customer retention, brand recognition, etc. If you want to see an end to animal testing of cosmetics, you must shop cruelty free. While people continue to buy products which have been tested on animals the companies producing them have no incentive to change.
With a little bit of homework and willingness to give something new a try, it’s a relatively pain-free process to change your shopping habits and make a stance against animal testing!
Once you are getting low on a product do a little research using the Preferred Product List of accredited companies in our booklet, on our website, or download the free App for iPhone, iPad or Android.
Get online and post a comment to our Facebook page, or join a Vegan or cruelty-free forum where people swap experiences and product knowledge. Talk to friends, family or colleagues about cruelty-free products they may already be using and seek recommendations from people you trust. Ask for samples of products you would like to try and when you do switch, it adds extra power to tell companies why you will no longer buy their products.
Most suburbs have a health food shop where many of the smaller company brands can be found and all on our list offer an online shopping service.