Animal testing of cosmetic ingredients is legal in Australia, but in practice it is rarely conducted here.
The large majority of cosmetics that sit on our shelves contain an ingredient or ingredients that, at some point, have been tested on animals. Mostly, these ingredients have been tested on animals overseas. Often, results from animal tests are used to verify products so they can be brought into the Australian market.
Animal testing is conducted on rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats and other animals. The tests used to ascertain the safety of cosmetic ingredients often subject animals to pain and distress without pain relief (due to potential interference with test results). Testing includes testing for skin irritation, dripping ingredients into the eyes of animals, testing for skin sensitisation, tests for allergies, etc.
There are no reliable figures on how many animals die each year as a result of animal testing, but the RSPCA estimates that tens of thousands of animals are tested each year. Animals Australia believes that far more animals die each year as a result of cosmetic testing.
Labor will ban animal testing in Australia for cosmetic purposes and ban the sale in Australia of cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients that have been tested on animals. The law should reflect the ethics of the community. It’s clear that the vast majority of Australians don’t believe animals should suffer for better lipstick or cleanser.
Our policy is about the phased in prevention of animal testing. Animal testing that has already occurred is not subject to the Bill, and cosmetics that are already available in Australia will continue to be available.
The registration process for new chemicals will be amended so that, in the case of a new cosmetic ingredient, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) must be notified of a substance’s animal testing history during the application process. Under the proposed policy, if animal testing is found to have occurred it cannot be registered.
Our policy will be phased-in in over three years, allowing NICNAS time to develop alternative testing means and allow industry to change their current processes if required.
Further information is available here.