Cosmetic testing on animals is banned in Australia. The ban commenced on 1 July 2020 and means new ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics that are manufactured in, or imported into Australia cannot use information from animal testing to prove safety.
Australia’s ban on the use of animal test data for cosmetics:
- aligns with the European Union (EU) approach to ensure the ongoing protection of public health, worker safety and the environment and minimal impact to business
- encourages information from new methods not relying on the use of animals, for chemicals with any industrial use (including cosmetics).
Implementing the ban
A variety of mechanisms were used to implement the ban, including:
- Legislation that restricts the use of new animal test data to support the introduction into Australia of industrial chemicals used exclusively as cosmetic ingredients.
- The National Health and Medical Research Council updated the Animal Ethics Code to incorporate the ban into section 7.
- The Department worked with the cosmetics industry to develop a voluntary code of practice. The code guides promotional claims about animal testing that can or cannot be made on cosmetic products.
- A consumer awareness and information package, as well as a retail education and engagement package was delivered throughout the first half of 2021.
- A stakeholder advisory group considered aspects related to the ban’s first 12 months of operation. The Ban on Cosmetic Testing on Animals Implementation Advisory Group met four times and comprised representatives from the cosmetics industry, animal welfare organisations, researchers and government. The group provided expert guidance and feedback to the Department of Health about non-legislative components of the ban’s implementation.
Exceptions in limited circumstances
The ban on using animal test data for ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics, applies in all circumstances apart from 3 limited exceptions. These exceptions are outlined in the Industrial Chemicals (General) Rules.
Exceptions are consistent with the European Union’s regulation and are necessary to protect human health and the environment. While there is a trend away from animal testing, it does enable understanding some of these risks.
New industrial chemicals regulation scheme
The Industrial Chemicals Act 2019 commenced on 1 July 2020, along with the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS).
In addition to the Act, the Industrial Chemicals (General) Rules and Industrial Chemicals Categorisation Guidelines (Categorisation Guidelines) set out AICIS’ technical and operational details, as well as the requirements for introducers.
Why has Australia banned cosmetic testing on animals?
There is strong public support to ban cosmetic testing on animals. This ban brings Australia into line with the EU and other countries introducing a ban on using data from tests on animals for determining the risks of new cosmetic ingredients.
Will the cosmetics that I’m currently using disappear from the shelves as a result of the ban?
No, cosmetics already existing on the market are not affected by the ban. The ban relates to new chemicals used exclusively as cosmetic ingredients.
Was animal testing on cosmetics common in Australia before the ban?
No. Animal testing for cosmetic ingredients does not happen in Australia. The ban protects against this type of testing in the future and it limits the number of new cosmetic ingredients introduced to Australia that have been tested on animals in other countries.
Does the ban impact on the safety of new cosmetic ingredients?
No. When information is required to support the introduction of a new cosmetic ingredient, the legislation allows for a range of alternate data sources to be provided instead of animal test data.
This can include recognised international alternatives to animal tests, for example, tests validated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), computer- based modelling and information from existing animal test data of a similar chemical.
If the information requirements cannot be met using non-animal test data, the new cosmetic ingredient may not be introduced.
Will the use of animal test data be accepted in certain situations?
Yes. Like the EU, the legislation allows for animal test data to be considered for environmental hazards where there are no available alternative means of assessing the risk. The Act also ensures that an introducer cannot ignore animal data that shows the chemical could harm humans or the environment.
How is the ban applied to ingredients also used for other purposes?
The ban will cover most cosmetics introduced in Australia.
However, new cosmetic ingredients may also have other industrial uses. These are known as multi-use chemicals, for example, perfumes and scents used in cosmetics and cleaning products.
- Historical data suggest, less than 1% of these multi-use cosmetic ingredients used animal test information to prove their safety.
In line with the Government’s original commitment, these multi-use ingredients are excluded from the ban. To expand the scope of the ban beyond this:
- will be inconsistent with other bans implemented internationally (for example the EU)
- will not reduce the amount of animal testing that occurs
- may lead to higher costs or reduced choice for consumers
- may lead to human health and environmental safety issues as the development of alternative non-animal tests to ensure safety is ongoing.
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