Canada planning ban on animal testing for cosmetics

Feb 6, 2023 | Canadian News, News

Canada is working on a plan to stop animal testing in the beauty industry after being slammed by animal activists for slowing progress to ban non-cruelty-free cosmetics brands.

“I think we’ll see this legislation on the table soon,” said Liz White, a director of the Animal Alliance of Canada. “That’s our hope.”

The changes are coming to the Food and Drugs Act to regulate the sale of cosmetics tested on animals or have animal-tested ingredients including products such as make-up, perfume, shaving foam and nail polish.

The act currently does not require animal testing to show the safety of cosmetic products.

White said the Animal Alliance of Canada has spent years asking the government for changes.

“Canada is one of the most backward countries in the industrial world when it comes to animal testing,” she said.

According to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), nearly four million animals were used in laboratory tests from April 2021 to March 2022.

“We have a very little handle on knowing what exactly is going on unless you join CCAC,” White said.

Liz White, the director of the Animal Alliance of Canada. She hopes that the new legislation will be effective.

Liz White, the director of the Animal Alliance of Canada. She hopes that the new legislation will be effective. Photo credit: Animal Alliance of Canada

“A lot of people think that products that passed successful tests on animals are safe for human beings and that’s not true,” she said. “Over 90 per cent of animal test results fail when it comes to people.”

JoAnn Fowler, the founder of cruelty-free, vegan cosmetics company Sappho New Paradigm, said consumers should be aware of the ingredients contained in cosmetics products.

JoAnn Fowler, the founder of vegan cosmetics brand Sappho New Paradigm. She thinks that the animal testing ban is a way to develop ethical innovative technologies.

JoAnn Fowler, the founder of vegan cosmetics brand Sappho New Paradigm. She said the animal testing ban is a way to develop ethically innovative technologies. Photo credit: Sappho New Paradigm

“Safe ingredients that are used by cosmetics companies for years do not need animal testing. Chemicals do,” she said. “The question is why these brands want to use chemicals instead of safe alternatives.”

Other reasons to use animals for tests are convenience and low costs.

“Animal testing is a simple and faster way to get results without spending a lot of money on new technologies that could give more specific results. Yeah, they could be expensive but ethical,” Fowler said.

Isabelle Parga, a first-year student in the Cosmetics Management program at Humber College, said that after finding more information on animal testing, she was “embarrassed” using animal-tested cosmetics products.

“People didn’t talk much about it so I didn’t care. Then, I saw some videos of what exactly animal testing looks like,” she said. “I couldn’t even imagine that my mascara or lipstick was put on animals from laboratories in such a cruel way.”

Parga said she stopped buying animal-tested products and began supporting cruelty-free cosmetics companies. She participates in peaceful protests and campaigns to address her concerns regarding animal testing.

“The more people will take part in it the more the government will pay attention to this issue,” she said.

The changes to animal testing are only for cosmetics products but not for the pharmaceutical industry. However, White said that alternatives can be much more beneficial.

“We know that in the drugs industry, the most cost-efficient but more effective way is not animal testing but alternatives, computer models and other things that don’t involve animals,” she said. “It’s much more reliable and predictive.”

White expects the final ban on animal testing for cosmetics will take effect in April 2023.

“We have an agreement with the industry that supports the changes in the Cosmetics Alliance of Canada. Also, we have support from a number of cosmetics companies like Lush and the Body Shop,” she said.

However, there is no information on how exactly the legislation will work. Also, the question about the use of animals in scientific research remains open.

“We don’t really know how effective it [legislation] will be,” White said. “The last thing we know is that this piece of legislation claims to ban animal testing.”

“Our alliance is still having a lot of consultations on how strong the changes in the law will be,” she said.