Changes that will take effect this year mean that more cosmetics will be tested on animals in China. Bonded shipments will now require animal testing as will imported toothpaste and oral care products. This means that some companies currently believed to be cruelty free may not be by the end of this year.

Changes to cosmetic animal testing in China
Changes to cosmetic animal testing in China

Late last year, changes to animal testing policies in China looked promising as the Chinese government decided to recognize data from a non-animal test method for safety evaluations. That particular test is to do with exposure to light, and is only one of multiple tests being carried out (with all the others being animal tests) but it was a move in the right direction. Unfortunately, as with many changes, it is a one step forward, two steps back process with China. If you want more information on the new non animal testing method, see the update on Peta’s website.

Unfortunately, the Chemical Inspection and Regulation Service of China (CIRS) has changed guidelines to include more products that must undergo compulsory animal testing. Previously, any product sold via e-commerce was exempt from animal testing. The new changes however mean that products distributed via bonded shipments must now undergo a product registration process that involves mandatory animal testing. A bonded shipment means that product is held in a warehouse in China before it is sold online and shipped to the customer within China. Companies have until 31st December 2017 to complete the registration process. All cosmetics sold in stores in China continue to have mandatory animal testing in place.

Any e-commerce purchase that is not a bonded shipment (products held outside of mainland China) is still exempt from animal testing. I don’t know of any cosmetic companies that use bonded shipments in China but I’m sure there are some out there. They will now have to make the decision about if they want to continue using that distribution method and therefore have their products tested on animals, or pull their products out. Many companies successfully sell their products to individuals in China via e-commerce with their warehouses located outside of mainland China. Hong Kong regulations remain the same with no mandatory animal testing required for e-commerce or retail.

Imported toothpaste and oral care products are now subject to mandatory animal testing. With soap still under consideration as to whether or not it will be included in the definition of cosmetics and therefore be tested on animals.

Changes to cosmetic animal testing in China
Changes to cosmetic animal testing in China

These changes mean that there could be brands that have previously been considered cruelty free that will no longer be by the end of the year. As I explained in my Vegan and Cruelty Free Standards in Beauty post, any company that sells cosmetics in stores in China is not considered cruelty free by any standard, and bonded shipments are now in the same category. It means that if you are going to ask companies about their cruelty free status you must enquire about both retails sales in China as well as bonded shipments. As always, just asking a company “are you cruelty free” is nowhere near detailed enough to get the answers you need. You also need to keep in mind that PR representatives may not be informed of this change to regulations in China so you need to ensure they understand the question you are asking, so that you know that the answer you are getting is correct. You also need to keep in mind that some brands have bad parent companies that test on animals even if the brand you are emailing doesn’t, you can read more about this in my Cosmetic Parent Companies and Cruelty Free Brands post. As a side note, China isn’t the only place that has mandatory animal testing, some states in Brazil require animal testing, so make sure your questions cover all bases. I spend a huge amount of time emailing companies trying to get all the information necessary to determine their cruelty free status, but I know that isn’t a viable option for everyone, so a quick and reliable list to look up cruelty free cosmetic companies is the Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) list. CCF also post updates on any changes to animal testing in China.

These changes are disappointing, as I was hoping that we were starting to see positive changes in China with a move away from animal testing, unfortunately that’s not the case yet (but we’ll keep pushing for it). As always, your dollar counts so support companies that are ethical and don’t condone the torture in China. Avoid cosmetic companies that have their products tested on animals because they have bonded shipments or retail sales in China. I know of multiple Aussie beauty brands that keep all their products in Australian warehouses so they will not be affected by this change. So don’t be disheartened, the good ethical companies are still out there waiting for your business. I will try to post about any future changes made the the animal testing laws in China, so sign up to email updates so you can get my blog posts delivered to your inbox. What do you think of the most recent changes to cosmetic animal testing in China?

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Alinta McMurdo