It has become clear to me in recent months that people find the animal testing regulations and the implication of testing in China to be quite confusing. In my experience, I find that people believe one of two things. They either think that as animal testing is banned in Europe that no products in this region are tested on animals (sadly it is a little more complex than that) or that somehow animal testing on products in China is not down to the specific company and utterly outwith their control.
On top of this companies make big claims on a regular basis to be cruelty free and yet sell in China. Again this can become very confusing for consumers. Especially when in their FAQs, they make statements like “actively working against animal testing” yet they sell in China, so actually, are actively allow animal testing. But anyway, I am getting ahead of myself! My aim in this post is to give a bit of background on both of these lines of thought to hopefully help you understand the situation a bit better!
Animal testing in Europe
With regards to animal testing being banned in Europe, this is law and has been since 11th March 2013. No company can test or sell cosmetic products tested on animals in Europe. This applies to both ingredients and finished products. However, as with everything, there are loopholes. The ingredients are only banned from being tested where their sole use is in cosmetics. They can be tested for worker safety or for the environment and still be compliant. Put simply, despite the law, ingredients may have been tested on animals. Obviously this means relying on this law is not enough to be sure a product and its ingredients have not been tested on animals.
So how exactly can you be sure a product is not tested on animals in Europe
The simplest way is to look out for the Leaping Bunny or Peta logos (above). However, a company can still be cruelty free and not have these logos. To know if they are cruelty free you would have to check a cruelty free brand list which you trust. Obviously, I have one and I have personally contacted every company on there. Or you can use another website, another option is Logical Harmony.
Animal testing in China
With regards to animal testing and China, it is the law that all imported cosmetic products are tested on animals. The only exceptions to this are it is not required in Hong Kong or where products are sold directly to consumers and that products made in China are exempt. Some people believe this means that companies have no option but to have their products tested on animals, but this is wrong and many companies will try to mislead you this way. It is their choice to sell in China and they are quite simply choosing profit over ethics. They do not need to sell there, they just want the money.
Some organisations claim to be trying to change the Chinese laws from the inside. This is the reason they give for selling in China. But again, to me, this seems like more excuses. By selling to the market they are changing nothing. If they chose not to sell in this market, Chinese consumers would have a voice for making change. They would surely campaign to be allowed products and thus for the government to change the law. I feel this would be more likely to cause a change in the law than a company selling in your market asking for change.