Skip to main content

China considers end to mandatory animal testing on cosmetics

By Zhang Dayu, CNN
updated 1:49 AM EST, Fri November 15, 2013
A worker holds white rats at an animal laboratory of a medical school in 2008 in Chongqing, China.
A worker holds white rats at an animal laboratory of a medical school in 2008 in Chongqing, China.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • China considers allowing sale of some cosmetics without requiring them to be tested on animals.
  • The proposal covers products made in China, but not imported products
  • Campaign group said change came quicker than expected
  • But does not expect wholesale end to animal testing of cosmetics in China

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Cosmetic companies and animal rights groups have welcomed a proposal by China to allow sales of some cosmetics without requiring them to be tested on animals.

Animal testing would no longer be mandatory for "non-specialized cosmetics", including shampoo, soaps and certain skin products manufactured in China from June next year, according to a document posted on the website of the China Food and Drug Administration earlier this month.

Beauty companies have long faced an ugly dilemma in China.

Local laws and regulations require animal testing for cosmetic products sold in the country, which has made the lucrative market a tricky area for brands that want to sell in China without alienating consumers in other places that frown upon animal testing.

State's new problem: Stoned dogs
Was Westminster dog poisoned?

"Non-specialized cosmetics produced in China could avoid toxicological testing after going through risk and safety checks," the China Food and Drug Administration said.

Imported cosmetics are not covered in the proposal. But the document indicated that China would gradually ease regulations on animal testing, which would allow more international firms opposed to animal testing to enter China's 134 billion yuan ($22 billion) cosmetics market.

READ: From poison to potion: Toxins turned into life-saving drugs

Current regulations require all cosmetics to go through a lengthy approval process known as "toxicological testing" which involves testing on animals like rabbits and guinea pigs.

"The Body Shop welcomes the signals that the Chinese authorities are adopting a new approach to cosmetic testing," spokeswoman Louise Terry said in emailed comments from London.

"We have campaigned against animal testing for over 20 years and we look forward to selling our products in China one day."

Cosmetic brand Urban Decay last year abandoned plans to sell its products in China in response to pressure from consumers and campaign groups, according to Cruelty Free International.

Dave Neale, animal welfare director at campaign group Animal Asia, told CNN the planned changes had come quicker than expected given that local campaigns against animal testing have only been going for two years.

"That's a very significant development because it took many years for European Union to allow these products to be sold (without being tested on animals)."

Earlier this year, a complete ban on the sale of cosmetics developed through animal testing took effect in the European Union.

But Neale added that this proposal would not mark the end of animal testing in China.

"As far as I'm aware, products can still be tested on animals. It just opens the opportunity for non-animal products to be sold," he said.

CNN's contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 12:14 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
updated 2:38 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
updated 4:12 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT