Chinese-made beauty & personal care products were already exempt from animal testing requirements. Now most imported beauty & personal care products are exempt as well.
BEIJING––The National Medical Products Administration of China on March 4, 2021 quietly kept an eight-year-old promise on behalf of animals, announcing that after May 1, 2021 it will no longer require imported cosmetics and personal care products to meet animal testing requirements.
While Beauty Industry News Asia correspondent Tiffany Ap broke the scoop, Business of Fashion writer Casey Hall a day later filled in the background.
“These revisions will level the playing field with domestic Chinese manufactured goods, which have been exempt from animal testing since 2014, and French cosmetic companies, which were the first to be exempt from mandatory animal testing in January of this year,” Hall explained.
Fenty Beauty to Drunk Elephant?
“This opens the door for a slew of cruelty-free brands from Fenty Beauty to Drunk Elephant to enter the massive Chinese market, which is the second largest market for beauty consumption in the world, behind only the U.S.,” Hall projected.
“According to the new regulations,” Hall said, “international brands will now be exempt from mandatory animal testing if they provide relevant quality certifications from their country-of-origin; their products are not aimed at children or babies; their products don’t contain any raw materials not included in China’s approved raw materials list; and the applicant, China representative, and producer of the products have not been flagged as requiring further supervision by authorities.”
Totally Vegan Buzz
Word that China has dropped mandatory animal testing for cosmetics and personal care products reached the animal advocacy world on March 9, 2021 via Mohsina Dodhiya of Totally Vegan Buzz.
The change pertains to “shampoo, body wash, lotions, and make-up,” Mohsina Dodhiya wrote.
“Animal testing will still be required for certain products including hair dyes, hair perming products, freckle-removing, and whitening products, sunscreens, anti-acne and anti-hair loss products, as well as cosmetics claiming new efficacy,” Mohsina Dodhiya added.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals “called the announcement ‘huge progress’ but said ‘animals used in testing in that country still need help,’” Mohsina Dodhiya finished.
No “victory” claims?
Almost a month later, the Humane Society of the U.S. subsidiary Humane Society International, which could legitimately have claimed a role in the regulatory victory, appears to have uncharacteristically said nothing since issuing a July 3, 2020 announcement that “China appears on track to end animal testing for imported ‘ordinary’ cosmetics.”
Humane Society International identified such testing, at the time, as “a practice which in the past decade has consumed between 50,000 and more than 120,000 rabbits each year.”
The China Food & Drug Administration on November 5, 2013 announced that China would no longer require that cosmetics, shampoos, and perfumes be tested on animals after June 1, 2014.
Instead of having to submit products to CFDA laboratories for testing, Chinese manufacturers would be allowed to submit the product safety data compiled to demonstrate the safety of raw ingredients, which might optionally include data from past animal testing.
Alternatively, manufacturers were allowed to submit the data from non-animal safety testing methods accepted by the 27-nation European Union.
The China Food & Drug Administration pledged at the time that if the transition away from animal testing requirements proceeded without complications for products made within China, the same rules would later be extended later to imported products.
$56.2 billion market
Word of the 2013 Chinese policy change reached the west through Humane Society International.
The Humane Society International “Be Cruelty-Free China” campaign and the Human Toxicology Project consortium at the same time announced an $80,000 grant to the Institute for In Vitro Sciences to train Chinese regulators and scientists to do non-animal product safety testing.
As of 2012, the 1.3 billion Chinese people, nearly 20% of the world’s population, spent $24 billion on personal care and cosmetic products, about 18% of the global total. The Chinese personal care and cosmetic product market was projected to grow to $34 billion by 2015.
That proved to be a major under-estimated. The Chinese beauty and personal care product market in 2021 is expected to reach $56.2 billion in U.S. dollars, enjoying annual growth of 8.75%.
Virginia bans animal testing of cosmetics
While Humane Society International maintained an uncharacteristic silence about the developments in China, Humane Society of the U.S. president Kitty Block and Humane Society Legislative Fund president Sara Amundson did on March 12, 2021 mention that Virginia governor Ralph Northam “has just signed into law bills that would ban new cosmetics animal testing and sales of animal-tested cosmetics in his state.
“Virginia joins three U.S. states that already have similar laws on their books,” Block and Amundson said. “In 2018 California became the first state to prohibit the sale of animal-tested cosmetics, followed by Nevada and Illinois in 2019.”
Whether these laws are being enforced, and indeed whether any of these states have the regulatory capacity to enforce them, is unclear.
Continued Block and Amundson, “Six other states, including New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New York and Oregon, are now considering similar bills to end cosmetics animal testing. The New Jersey state Senate has passed a bill 35-0, and it now awaits action from the state Assembly.
In Maryland, too, the Senate voted 47-0 on a bill, which will soon be voted on by the House of Delegates. In Hawaii, bills have passed the Senate and House of Representatives and they are now being reviewed in crossover chambers.”
All of which leaves most of the U.S. still a few steps behind the whole of China.