Is this the end of animal testing in China?

Anyone who has made the commitment to being cruelty-free will most probably have heard the recent online chatter about China. And, if you’re anything like me, the news will have made you stop and listen.

“Wait, does this mean I can buy MAC again?!”

All over my Twitter and Instagram feeds over the past few days have been comments about the fact that China is “banning animal testing”. Cue cheers, me throwing biodegradable confetti all over the shop and prepping my fingers for a serious online shopping workout.

However, once the initial excitement had worn off, I knew that I had to do my own research. China banning animal testing would be a huge step and for it to have happened so quickly seemed unlikely to me. It just looked too good to be true. And guess what? It was.

But before we dive into what the F is actually going on with Chinese animal testing laws right now, let’s take a look at why the whole thing matters for anyone who is trying to be cruelty-free here in the UK.

Why should I care about Chinese animal testing laws?

Within the whole of the EU, animal testing for cosmetics has been illegal since 2013 under EU Regulation 1223/2009.  However, the UK have actually had laws against it since 1998.

So, if we were so ahead of the game, it can sometimes seem hard to understand why Chinese laws are something that we need to consider whilst we’re doing our own shopping.

The reason that the “China Issue” is so crucial within cruelty-free living is that, over there, it is (or was?) required by law that any cosmetics manufactured outside of China must undergo animal testing procedures. That means that brands like MAC, L’Oreal and even now NARS, all have their products tested on animals in some capacity since they choose to sell within mainland China.

That’s why CF consumers choose not to support such brands.

To find out if a company is cruelty-free, including whether they are sold in China, use Logical Harmony’s CF Brand List. 

But are China now banning animal testing?

Short answer: No.

Recently, laws in China have changed. However, we shouldn’t get too excited, as animal testing hasn’t (yet!) been completely banned.

Instead, China’s Gansu Province National Medical Products Association have announced that post-market testing will no longer include animal tests. This regulation applies not only to products manufactured within China, but also those that are imported. Post-market testing means exactly what you would expect: It is the routine testing of products after they have hit the market. This change in law, therefore means, that such routine testing will no longer be required to include animals.

However, as Humane Society helpfully points out, “in the case of non-routine tests, eg: a consumer complaint about a product, unless/until authorities accept modern non-animal eye/skin irritation tests, and invest in local infrastructure to use such tests, animal testing could still be the default.”.

So, by the looks of it, post-market animal testing has not been banned altogether, but is now simply not a requirement. It is no longer “normal practice”.

On top of that, these changes in regulations don’t even touch pre-market testing laws. Those are to stay exactly the same for now, meaning that all cosmetics, including foreign imports, must be tested on animals before hitting the shelves. Every time a company decides to cash in on the huge Chinese markets, they are still agreeing to have their products undergo these inhumane procedures.

Where do we stand now, as cruelty-free consumers?

Is this a step in the right direction? YES. Most definitely. This is something worth celebrating. It shows that Chinese officials are hopefully waking up to the fact animal testing is in no way necessary and this is hopefully the start of some more wide-reaching law changes in the near future. Plus, I’m happy to know that cruelty in the industry has been reduced, even if not entirely eradicated.

However, should we now all start buying from brands that sell in China? No. Whilst this change in law is positive, it doesn’t mean that post-market testing has been completely banned, nor that pre-market testing has been changed in any way. As such, the “China Issue” when it comes to being cruelty-free is still just as important and relevant.

The bottom line is this: If you are cruelty-free, celebrate this powerful step, but don’t take it as a green light to suddenly start purchasing from all of the brands that choose to sell their products in China.

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1 Comment

  1. April 21, 2019 / 4:52 pm

    Thank you! This is such an informative and important post. The laws are definitely going in the right direction, so here’s hoping China will end all animal testing in the near future!

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