As an owner of two dogs and an animal lover myself, please be assured that I want to minimise animal testing. I can also assure you that the Government has recognised the public concern around the testing on animals of chemicals used as ingredients in cosmetics. I welcome the fact that the Government has introduced measures that ensure no new licences will now be granted for animal testing of chemicals that are exclusively intended to be used as ingredients in cosmetics products.
Alongside this, the Government is taking action to seek alternatives to animal testing for worker and environmental safety of chemicals used exclusively as cosmetic ingredients. This reflects the Government’s wider commitment to replacing the use of animals in science wherever scientifically possible. The Government is confident that the UK science sector and industry has the talent to provide the solutions needed here.
The regulatory framework around cosmetics has long required manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are safe for use by consumers. Animal testing for this purpose was banned in the UK in 1998 and this ban remains in force.
Under chemicals regulations, manufacturers and importers must assess and stringently mitigate the hazards to human health and the environment of the chemicals they place on the market. This includes chemicals used as ingredients in cosmetics. In some cases, where there are no validated alternatives, this has in the past required testing on animals as a last resort.
These regulations are separate from, and have a different purpose to, the consumer cosmetics regulations, which is why it had been possible that a chemical used in cosmetics could have been required to be tested on animals. On that basis, a small number of time-limited licences were issued between 2019 and 2022. However, a ban on new licences has now been introduced with immediate effect, and the Government is engaging urgently with the relevant firms to determine a path forward on the few remaining legacy licences.
The Government is also undertaking to review at pace the effective administration of the ban over the longer term. This will give due regard of the needs of the science industry, the need to ensure worker and environmental safety, and the need to protect animals from unnecessary harm.
Finally, I understand that the Government is committed to ensuring that there is transparency in regard to animal testing, and that all protocols and guidelines are followed to protect the welfare of animals.