The status of animal testing is made clearer in the new voluntary code for the cosmetics industry

Buyers looking for cosmetics that support animal welfare will have more clarity as the Australian government tightens consumer law to tackle misleading advertising claims.

Laws banning animal testing of cosmetics in Australia went into effect in July 2020, and now the federal government is backing the legislation with a new voluntary code for the cosmetics industry.

Cosmetics are defined to include makeup, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, and other personal care items.

Accord Australasia, which represents the cosmetics industry, led the development of the voluntary code.

Policy and public affairs director Craig Brock said the code provides the industry with labeling and advertising advice that complements the ban on animal testing.

Cosmetics are defined to include makeup, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, and other personal care items.(

Unsplash: Raphael Lovaski


“I certainly don’t think there are any major cases of brands using misleading claims, but if you don’t follow the law and look at these things in detail, you might unintentionally not provide the right advice to the people. consumers. “

Consumers Care

For many years, Australians have cared about the animal welfare standards of the products they put in their baskets.

A 2013 opinion poll commissioned by Humane Research Australia found that 85% of consumers oppose testing of cosmetics and toiletries on animals..

A bathroom full of cosmetics
An open bathroom drawer to reveal makeup and personal items(

Provided: Unsplash


Nicole Groch of Cruelty Free International Australia said the code was a big step forward, but could mislead the average person as it seemed cosmetics were no longer tested on animals on every level.

“The problem is, there is a loophole, it is not clear enough,” she said.

“It just means that the ingredients are used only for cosmetics and, frankly, very few cosmetics are made with single-use cosmetic ingredients.

A brown mouse
A study found that 85% of people oppose testing of cosmetics on animals.(

Flickr: Rama


Ms Groch said that although animal testing for cosmetic purposes is banned in Australia, some companies have outsourced data overseas.

“We don’t really have cosmetic testing labs in Australia anymore, but we have a lot of companies that use labs overseas for testing or sell to other countries that require testing,” he said. she declared.

Mr Brock said companies that opted for the code could not use overseas data for regulatory approvals in Australia, including products imported into the country.

Types of tests

There were three main types of animal testing in the cosmetics industry, Ms. Groch said, all of which involved the animal being denied pain relief and killed after the test was completed.

“One is to drop a substance into the eye of a shackled animal to see the effect of that ingredient,” she said.

“There’s a skin test where they basically shave the animal’s skin until it’s raw red, then start applying the ingredient over and over to see what reaction the skin will have.

Rhesus monkey in laboratory
Rhesus monkeys in science laboratory.(

Flickr: Ellery Chen


“They may have gastrointestinal issues or it may be a longer term study to see if they have cancer or if it is affecting their immune system or their brain.”

Ms Groch said it was impossible to know how many companies were still using animal testing in their supply chains, but she estimated that in Australia that figure would represent around 50% of brands.

The real deal

The code also aims to respond to the findings of a consumer study conducted by the Australian Department of Health, which found a lack of information on animal testing for cosmetics in Australia.

Logos of cartoon rabbits showing products that have not been tested on animals
Logos showing products that have not been tested on animals.(

Provided: Agreement


Mr Brock said registered logos, such as Cruelty Free International’s “leaping rabbit”, were a good way for consumers to identify code-compliant products.

“Companies can still make their own claims, but there are certain things in the code that are now going to be problematic if brands are to use certain types of terms.

“The use of moving terms, such as ‘humane’ or ambiguous terms such as ‘animal friendly’ are difficult to define in Australian consumer law, so it is difficult to determine whether, from a consumer perspective. consumers, if the product has been tested on animals, when an emotional claim like this is made. “

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