“Our brand does not conduct animal testing, nor ask others to do it on its behalf, except when it is required by law.”
This statement is one that is starting to be seen more and more on brand FAQ pages and in response to customer outreach. It’s confusing to many readers and sends a mixed message about the brands stance on animal testing.
There are many brands out there who say that they are cruelty free and do not test on animals, except as required by law. One of the most common questions that Logical Harmony receives from readers has to do with this statement. What does it mean when a brand says that they do not test on animals unless required by law? Does it still mean that the brand is cruelty free? In this post, my goal is to explain what this statement means in general and what it means about a brands cruelty free status.
What does “animal testing as required by law” mean?
Due to certain local laws and regulations, animal testing is required in some areas. This can be across the board for all products (such as in China) or just for some ingredients (such as in the EU and US).
In the EU, animal testing on cosmetics sold in the EU is banned. But laws on animal testing do not extend to ingredients that are commonly found in both household items and cosmetics. These ingredients can still be tested on animals. In the US, the FDA and EPA also require animal testing on some chemicals that are found in both household and cosmetic items. It is also unclear about if the EU ban does or does not allow testing on animals in cases related worker health and environmental toxicity. Due to the recent EU ban on animal testing on cosmetics, many brands have opted to include the “required by law” disclosure in their stance when they are using these ingredients that can still be tested on animals.
The bans in Isreal and India both still allow the sale of cosmetics that have been tested in other countries, while the EU ban does not. It’s important to note that the bans on animal testing in the EU, Isreal and India do not govern testing done as required by law in other regions. Brands that are selling items that have not been tested on animals in the EU are still testing on animals, “as required by law”, to sell in other markets. These specific items just are not available in the EU.
In China, all cosmetics and beauty items are required to be tested on animals. This is something that the government regulates. The government does the testing, but the brands who sell in China are required to pay for the animal testing. There are some cases where items can be imported into China in a way that avoids animal testing, but it’s expensive and rare.
When the animal testing is required by law this testing is often not done by the brand itself but by a 3rd party company or local governments. However, in both cases the brand pays for the animal testing to occur and is aware that it is happening.
Are ingredients used in household products required to be tested on animals?
No. The EU and FDA only require animal testing on new ingredients. However, what the ban on animal testing in the EU does not cover are ingredients used in household items. This regulation does not define what these items are. Many ingredients found in household items, for example iron oxides, glycerin, mineral oil and more, are also found in cosmetics. Brands that sell in the EU can still test ingredients used in household items on animals and sell in the EU.
Is a brand that engages in animal testing as required by law cruelty free?
The answer, from the standards here at Logical Harmony and in general among vegans and cruelty free consumers is no. These brands are not cruelty free. Even if the brand itself is not testing on animals, they are aware of the animal testing being done on their behalf. Brands that test on animals as required by law will be listed as a Brand to Avoid on the Cruelty Free & Vegan Brands List.
Why do some brands who engage in animal testing as required by law claim to be cruelty free?
Since the animal testing is often done by a 3rd party and not the brand itself, they use this as a loophole to try and avoid responsibility for the animal testing. There is no regulation on the term cruelty free. Because of this, a brand can claim to be cruelty free for a variety of reasons. In some cases, brands who test on animals during production but do not test the finished items on animals even say they are cruelty free. The term can really mean anything.
While there are organizations that can help you find cruelty free options, including Logical Harmony, it is important to know that there is no set standard for what cruelty free means.
The questions that Logical Harmony asks brands are listed in the FAQ and specifically speak to asking about animal testing as required by law. Feel free to send these questions to brands that you are curious about.