ECHA: 'Coordinated effort' at policy level required for alternatives to replace animal testing in EU


ECHA: 'Coordinated effort' at policy level required for alternatives to replace animal testing in EU

10 December 2020
A coordinated approach amongst European Union policy makers that considers research, method and validation is needed for non-animal alternative cosmetic testing to fully replace animal data, says the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

Since 2013, the EU has had a ban in place on the testing of cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals under the Cosmetics Regulation EC No. 1223/2009. However, under ECHA's REACH Regulation on chemical safety, animal data could sometimes be required to prove the safety of ingredients relating to long-term worker exposure or environmental emissions. 


The discrepancy had long caused concern among industry manufacturers and suppliers alike, but this year industry had joined forces with animal rights groups and other non-profits to step up and publicly challenge the regulatory framework, following two ECHA Board of Appeal rulings that called for animal data on two Symrise ingredients destined for sunscreen formulas. Several beauty majors signed an open letter last month stating ECHA was undermining the EU animal testing ban - a claim the agency refuted - and many industry leaders had since called on ECHA and other regulatory bodies to accept next-generation, non-animal methods that had fast evolved in recent years. 


Asked if ECHA was prepared to collaborate with the cosmetics industry to advance regulatory uptake of next-generation alternative methods – an important nextstep cited by many industry leaders and experts as the way forward – Christel Musset, ECHA's director of Hazard Assessment, said the agency was “always open to work with stakeholders”.

“The interaction can take form in various ways, for example, as accredited stakeholders, contributing to our consultations or participating in our events,” she said.

On the topic of the EC’s recent Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability

– an initiative industry believe could create an increase in animal data requirements – Musset said ECHA welcomed the strategy “but cannot yet comment on its concrete implications”.