Innospec collabs with Unilever to support safe use of ingredients without animal testing

Published: 26-May-2021

Innospec supply Unilever with many of their key ingredients. Innospec are delighted to be collaborating with Unilever with a goal to demonstrate that no new animal data needs to be generated to ensure the safe use of ingredients in factories.

Why is collaborating important?

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is requesting new animal tests be performed on ingredients which have been safely used in factories and in Unilever products for many years (you can read more about this here).

Safety of consumers and workers

Unilever have invested heavily developing and testing new avenues to assure the safety of their consumers without using animals in testing. Details of these new approaches are published, thus encouraging adoption and further debate from other interested parties (Hatherell et al. 2020; Baltazar et al. 2020; Moxon et al. 2020).

However, preventing unnecessary testing is a huge challenge and one that is only possible by close partnership with like-minded partners like Innospec.

To assure the safety of workers in our factories, scientists from Unilever and Innospec are actively applying new cutting-edge approaches to safety assessments. We are developing proof-of-concept occupational ‘next generation’ risk assessments, which we believe will ultimately be more human-relevant and protective of our workers than out-dated animal tests.

Exposure first mindset

Prevention of unnecessary animal use is possible by adopting an ‘exposure-first’ mindset, the method championed by regulators in Canada. When we understand how much of a chemical people are exposed to, how often, and by which routes, we can work out which hazard or bioactivity data are needed to complete a safety assessment.

The driving principle behind consumer safety assessments is that it does not really matter how an ingredient behaves if it is fed at very high doses to animals, because it is more important to use methods that are robust enough to give confidence that exposures to people will not cause any harm. By using this principle; showing that an ingredient can be used safely in a soap bar, shampoo or household cleaning product, why would animal test data be needed to show it is safe to use in a factory?

It is often the claim that workers in factories handle concentrated raw materials and therefore could be exposed too much higher concentrations of ingredients, that is used to justify the production of more animal test data.

However, that this is going to be very case-dependent, after all, workers in factories use personal protective equipment (PPE), meaning they are often exposed to less of an ingredient than if they were at home using consumer products. It is only after understanding worker exposure that the information needed to complete a robust safety assessment can be defined and any data gaps filled.

Unfortunately, for what appears to be purely administrative reasons, it is on exactly these kinds of ingredients and for the purpose of worker safety, that ECHA is requesting that new animal tests be performed.

Unilever and Innospec: Without animal testing

By working closely together, Innospec and Unilever are:

  • Investing in next generation testing capabilities
  • Applying exposure first assessments
  • Publishing results of progress, enabling scientific community peer review assessments.

Innospec are passionate about the use of new concepts and by encouraging other companies and groups to do the same, we can continue to ensure the safety of cosmetic ingredients, in products and in factories without the use of animals in testing.

Read more here.

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