E.U. to Ban Cosmetics With Animal-Tested Ingredients
March 11, 2013 9:01 AM   Subscribe

E.U. regulators are expected to announce Monday a ban on the import and sale of cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals and to pledge more efforts to push other parts of the world, like China, to accept alternatives.

Related: The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program administers a cruelty-free standard and the internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo for companies producing cosmetic, personal care, and household products.

Wikipedia on Animal Testing.

Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep is an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition effort to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.

Finally, ever wondered what is the difference between "not tested on animals" and "against animal testing"?

Deceptive ‘not tested on animals’ claims may be truthful in the literal sense, although may well hide the fact that the ingredients in the product have been animal tested.

A company itself may not test; it may not even commission testing on its behalf. However, testing may occur by its ingredient suppliers, and a company may purchase ingredients with a ‘don't ask, don't tell’ philosophy.
posted by The Illiterate Pundit (27 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aren't I an animal?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:06 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aren't I an animal?

Yes, you are one that can give consent.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:14 AM on March 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


I've always wondered if those animal testing notices were to be like, "hey, we don't do mean stuff to animals," or more like, "hey, we haven't tested this stuff on animals, so you might want to be careful if you use it on your animal."
posted by jessssse at 9:22 AM on March 11, 2013


Yes, you are one that can give consent.

If consent is the standard, then no human should be able to own an animal and keep it as a pet.
posted by three blind mice at 9:22 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


If consent is the standard, then no human should be able to own an animal and keep it as a pet.

Well yes, there certainly is such a line of argument
posted by iotic at 9:29 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


If consent is the standard, then no human should be able to own an animal and keep it as a pet.

I think that consent should be the standard for unnecessary testing that could cause harm to the animal.

I am very pro-animal testing for pharma/med devices, so long as it is done responsibly, but I don't understand what cosmetics need to be tested on animals -- no one will die because some company couldn't bring a new eyeliner to market.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:31 AM on March 11, 2013


The Beauty Brains has a quick explainer: "The only real impact on the beauty companies is that they won’t be able to use any NEW raw materials that have been tested on animals. This law doesn’t retroactively ban ingredients (or products for that matter) that were animal tested years ago – those are grandfathered in and can still be sold."
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:33 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Finally.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:33 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aren't existing cosmetic ingredients rather dangerous though? Is the argument that testing new cosmetic merely lets manufacturers optimize costs by finding cheaper and more dangerous but not quite too dangerous ingredients?
posted by jeffburdges at 9:43 AM on March 11, 2013


This law doesn’t retroactively ban ingredients (or products for that matter) that were animal tested years ago – those are grandfathered in and can still be sold

I wonder if this is such a bad thing? It sucks that animals were harmed in the past, but if no further animals will be harmed by the continued use of the ingredients is there any need to avoid them?
posted by sparklemotion at 9:43 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes companies that don't test their products on animals will get bought out by much much larger companies that promise no such thing (my husband was recently shocked that Tom's of Maine is no longer an independently owned company anymore) and then you're left with, "Well, I know x doesn't test on bunnies, but they are owned by y. STUPID MORAL DILEMMA."
posted by Kitteh at 9:52 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


sparklemotion: "no one will die because some company couldn't bring a new eyeliner to market."

Well, people who test that eyeliner could theoretically die in a way that might've been prevented if an animal had tested it first, and of course people could die if the company brings that eyeliner to market with insufficient testing.

Yes, these are all technically voluntary and it's hard to argue that making ourselves look nice is worth torturing or killing animals, but we can't say there's zero additional risk to humans. Beauty standards are a very complex issue, and there are a lot of social pressures that are not easy to flout depending on your cultural background. Most people assume cosmetics will be safe, and that may be less true with reduced animal testing.

On the other hand, complying with this law may force cosmetics companies to become more involved in their quality-control process, in which case we may end up safer as a result.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:53 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, people who test that eyeliner could theoretically die in a way that might've been prevented if an animal had tested it first, and of course people could die if the company brings that eyeliner to market with insufficient testing.

I guess I (possibly naively) figure that the following are true:

(a) companies won't test on humans/release to market unless they can somehow determine that the product is safe for humans.

(b) If an ingredient/compound can't be shown to be safe through some kind of chemical analysis/risk assessment, then the company would just not use it.

Therefore:

(c) there will be some new ingredients that _could_ be used in cosmetics that just won't be. So it's not like humans would be harmed either, except if you consider "lack of new product" to be a harm.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:00 AM on March 11, 2013


Yes, these are all technically voluntary and it's hard to argue that making ourselves look nice is worth torturing or killing animals, but we can't say there's zero additional risk to humans.

The additional risk to humans could probably be brought well below the level of uncertainty existing with current animal testing practices, it just wouldn't be very cheap for manufacturers.

Beauty standards are a very complex issue, and there are a lot of social pressures that are not easy to flout depending on your cultural background.

I'm sorry, but I don't get this - beauty standards are so complex that a constant supply of new cosmetic ingredients is necessary? I doubt consumers would even realize this ban came in effect if it wasn't publicized.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:05 AM on March 11, 2013


This is a good use of economic clout. Nobody wants to be shut out of the world's biggest market, so they'll fall in line. It's a kind of "race to the top" in terms of standards.
posted by Jehan at 10:11 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I disagree with those assumptions, sparklemotion. I think the last 150 years' worth of corporate practices suggest that many companies will test on humans or release to market, if they can adhere to the letter of the law cheaply enough to still make a profit (or alternatively, if they're still likely to make a profit even if they get caught breaking the law and have to pay fines/settlements).

I also don't think "safety" is a simple enough concept to be applied this way. There are way too many chemicals and way too many people and no possible way to test all the combinations. Instead, it really comes down to risk profiles: a set of probabilities of something being dangerous, corresponding to a set of potential consequences. A drug with a 1% chance of causing a rash is considered "safe" compared to a drug with a 0.1% chance of death, even though it would affect more people, and even though the overwhelming majority of people wouldn't experience either outcome.

Dr Dracator: "beauty standards are so complex that a constant supply of new cosmetic ingredients is necessary?"

The standards themselves are complex, but I was referring to beauty standards as an issue. Whether we like it or not, cosmetics are tightly coupled to many social, professional, cultural, and religious practices in society. As a quick example I found on Wikipedia, p-Phenylenediamine has been used to make Henna tattoos darker, despite being a contact allergen. While this may not be a case in which animal testing would have alerted us to the risks, it is definitely an example of culturally-important cosmetics being altered in unsafe ways.

As with "safe", I'd argue that "necessary" isn't the right word. People do unnecessary things pretty much constantly, and no one can analyze the full moral implications of every single one of them. In a way, that's the strongest argument for a law like this, that it means one less moral issue underlying people's everyday behavior.

Until that point, though, we'd be naïve to assume their moral judgement will buck their habits and traditions when it's something as indirect as this. Having nothing to do with whether it should or shouldn't, mind you... just whether it will.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:54 AM on March 11, 2013


Thank you thank you thank you EU.

I can't help but hope this will make conscientious shopping, even here in the US, easier.

Because Beagles...

. for the sad pups.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:58 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This comes just after all of Europe discovered that Beef was actually Horse and some time after the adulterated honey and olive oil scandals.

So just how much confidence do you have that the ingredients in your makeup are actually the ones that the company that manufactured it listed? They may have been duped by their own raw ingredient suppliers.

So to be frank, I am still pro-testing because I want the full implications of the new and cheaper possible ingredients known because I am 100% certain they will still end up near the eyes of young women. Even if this only ends up being useful for after the fact diagnosis of problems caused by mislabelled ingredients.

In an ideal world I would say we don't need any new makeup ingredients (or even makeup at all) but we live in an actual world and I am willing to sacrifice the wellbeing of some animals for the wellbeing of some people even if those people are making decisions I wouldn't.
posted by srboisvert at 11:05 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I get the paranoia about putting faith into cosmetics companies, but if banning animal testing means that companies will release unsafe products anyways, why do they even bother with animal testing now?
posted by sparklemotion at 11:09 AM on March 11, 2013


"The only real impact on the beauty companies is that they won’t be able to use any NEW raw materials that have been tested on animals. This law doesn’t retroactively ban ingredients (or products for that matter) that were animal tested years ago

Supervillain idea: threaten to ban makeup by testing all the ingredients on animals now, unless a tidy sum is paid.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:49 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


sparklemotion: "if banning animal testing means that companies will release unsafe products anyways, why do they even bother with animal testing now?"

Calculated risk. A simplified example:

You're a cosmetics company. You have a product that will make $10,000,000 in revenue, but there's a 50/50 chance that it has a dangerous side-effect. If you release the product and it has that side-effect, you will have to pay $20,000,000 in fines and settlements.

This side-effect occurs randomly in 0.1% of all users, regardless of species. It costs $1,000 to test the product on a human, or $100 to test it on an animal. How much testing do you do in order to make the most profitable decision about whether to release the product (including the cost of the tests themselves), and how much profit should you expect to make?

Intuitively, it's obvious that you're going to be able to make a smarter decision more cheaply if you can do animal testing (again, having nothing to do with the ethics).

I'm actually really rusty at this, but based on some Wolfram Alpha I think the actual results are (approximately):
  • Optimal profit with no testing: $0 (since you're equally likely to make or lose ten million dollars)
  • Optimal profit with human-only testing: $6,000,000 (testing 2,994 people, 95% confidence there's no side effect)
  • Optimal profit with animal testing: $9,370,000 (testing 5,296 animals, 99.5% confidence that there's no side effect)
That scenario is a huge simplification of the real thing; in reality, those numbers are very complex and intertwined, and they vary for each of that product's many possible side-effects.

Still, it's an illuminating example. Using animal testing was more profitable, and resulted in a higher confidence that the product posed no risk to consumers. To someone who doesn't care about animals, that is win-win. And that's what we're fighting against, since animal cruelty is just a vague abstraction to most people unless it's right in their face.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:52 PM on March 11, 2013


So just how much confidence do you have that the ingredients in your makeup are actually the ones that the company that manufactured it listed?
So to be frank, I am still pro-testing...


How much confidence do you have that testing is actually being performed well enough to ensure the safety of a product, or if it is even being tested at all?
posted by orme at 12:54 PM on March 11, 2013


If consent is the standard, then no human should be able to own an animal and keep it as a pet.

This is a derail, but... I think some pets consent implicitly by their actions. I can't be the only one who adopted a cat, shortly afterwards had the cat vanish for some number of days, only to return pm their own. And, whenever they get out again, return in a much shorter period of time.

Mine left for 5 days a few weeks after she moved in, and now never vanishes for more than an hour. She is clearly choosing to stay in my apartment, and if she didn't I wouldn't be able to keep her there for long.
posted by flaterik at 1:48 PM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just want to say that you are a hypocrite if you are against jabbing needles full of salicylic acid into rabbit's eyes and setting beagles on fire but think it is okay to have a little kitty and love it and cuddle it and care for it and feed it treats. Those are exactly the same thing.

Also: this is good.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 4:27 PM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm just worried that products will be rushed to market without being tested or inadequately tested, and that this will cause harm to people.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:04 AM on March 12, 2013


This is kind of meaningless if you can still use animal products in cosmetics - yes it is awful to jab syringes in to the eyes of rabbits and beagles, but somehow it is okay for cows* to be kept and killed in horrible situations and their hormones, uric acid, fats etc. used in cosmetics.

*I am just using cows as an example - there are plenty of different types of animal products used in making cosmetics.
posted by Megami at 2:46 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The solution is obvious: company A tests ingredients on animals in a country where it is legal to do so.

Then, mysteriously, company B decides to use the same ingredients in its new line of cosmetics, and begins human trials in the third world.
posted by Fongotskilernie at 8:25 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


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