European Ombudsman investigates PETA complaint against the ECHA

26-Sep-2016

CTPA insists that there are no loopholes, as PETA questions REACH exemptions for animal testing ban

PETA says that the European Ombudsman is launching an investigation into its complaint against the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) following what it calls an attempt to “weaken the ban on testing cosmetic ingredients on animals”.

The EU’s Cosmetics Regulation bans animal testing for cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients. Products that have been tested on animals are also banned from sale in the EU.

However, REACH regulations permit animal tests in certain circumstances. This includes tests to ensure the safety of workers exposed to chemicals during manufacturing and tests on chemicals that are also used for other purposes outside of cosmetics.

“The cosmetics industry has a long-standing commitment to the replacement of animal testing and plays a leading role in the development of alternatives by dedicating funding, time, resources and scientific expertise to this area of research.” — The CTPA

In 2014, the ECHA clarified this position in a statement which also said that animal testing methods would only be permitted as “a last resort”.

PETA has submitted a complaint about this statement, asking the European Commission and ECHA to withdraw it.

The charity says that the Commission has since said that it is awaiting the outcome of an ongoing court case before it responds.

In the complaint, PETA asks the European Commission and ECHA to withdraw their guidelines on the interface between REACH and the Cosmetics Regulation and “acknowledge that they have no power to issue ‘interpretive’ guidance”.

Dr Julia Baines, Science Policy Advisor at PETA, said that consumers could be given a "false impression" about the cruelty-free status of cosmetic products available in the EU. She said: "With potentially thousands of animals' lives at stake, we trust that the Ombudsman will agree that the authorities have gone beyond their remit in interpreting and applying the law."

The European Ombudsman has acknowledged PETA’s complaint and apologised for the delay since it was initially submitted. It says that the office will now examine the details of the complaint.

The ECHA and European Commission say that they will issue a joint response to PETA’s claims. The agencies had been waiting for a case heard in the EU’s Court of Justice to conclude before responding.

The case concluded last week when the court rejected the European Federation for Cosmetics Ingredient’s case that data from animal tests undertaken outside of the EU should be permissible.

A spokesperson from the ECHA told Cosmetics Business that it had not received any new inquiries from the European Ombudsman following PETA’s announcement. Although, the agency did confirm that the charity had been in touch with both the European Commission and the ECHA earlier this summer.

The CTPA has also clarified that the REACH provisions encourage the use of adaptations and only use animal tests as a last resort. The CTPA told Cosmetics Business: “There are no loopholes to the animal testing bans under the Cosmetics Regulation and the industry is not seeking to circumvent these important bans, nor are the Commission or ECHA.

“The cosmetics industry has a long-standing commitment to the replacement of animal testing and plays a leading role in the development of alternatives by dedicating funding, time, resources and scientific expertise to this area of research.”