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Making Animal Testing A Thing Of The Past.

March 6, 2009

It looks like skin irritation tests will soon be animal free in the European Union  for the cosmetic  industry.  Work towards alternatives has taken over eleven years and has hit many stumbling blocks while an appropriate and accurate method was developed. It now looks likely that the EU will pass the three new methods that will replace the animal test meaning an irritation free life for many a lab rabbit.

Irritation tests have been very important in understanding the affect that surfactants and other ingredients have on the skin.  The tests were usually carried out on rabbits where a surfactant or a surfactant mix would be applied in a small dose to the shaved back of the animal. The animal’s skin would be observed for signs of erythema (reddness).  The tests would be scaled up in concentration to find out at what strength the surfactant caused a slight skin reddening.  This data would then be used as a guide as to how mild a surfactant or blend was and a dosing guide for formulating. The procedure while not pleasent was not too invasive for the animal (although you may have to ask the animal to get their opinion!).  Anyway, animal free has to be a better way in this case.

The EU and cosmetic industry are working towards removing animals from all test procedures but this is a tall order.  It is rare for an on the shelf cosmetic product to have been tested on animals – this was stopped years ago. However, many ingredients – especially very novel ones may have to be tested on animals to meet legal requirements for safety. The industry are working towards replacing another four tests by 2013.  Let’s support that work!

It is worth saying that animal testing is not something that any industry wants to do. It is only carried out in accordance with health and safety laws aimed at protecting human health. While there may be cause for an  argument to say that “we” don’t need any more cosmetic ingredients it is probably fair to say that not developing any more ingredients wouldn’t take away the need for testing.  Groups like the campaign for safe cosmetics are lobbying companies for more and more data on their products and consumers are right to be asking more questions. Alternative test methods can’t come quickly enough!

If you would like to read more about this we suggest this article at Cosmetic Design Europe.

What are your views?

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 6, 2009 10:36 pm

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