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Cosmetic testing

Although the law requires that animals be used for medical testing in Canada, animals are not required for cosmetic testing. Yet in many cases animals are still used, particularly to test the ingredients used in cosmetic products.

According to Canadian law, a cosmetic is defined as “a product which cleanses, improves or alters the complexion, skin, hair or teeth.”

Cosmetic manufacturers in Canada must be able to prove that their products are safe, according to the Cosmetic Regulations. For many, this proof includes animal testing, even though animal testing isn’t required. Animal testing is not usually performed on a cosmetic product but it is used to test ingredients, particularly when new ones are developed.

As a result, when cosmetics are labelled “cruelty free” or “not tested on animals,” it does not necessarily mean that the products used in them were never tested on animals. The manufacturer can claim that the products themselves weren’t tested on animals, when another company actually used animals to test the ingredients used in the product.

There are several federal laws relating to cosmetics: The Food and Drugs Act, the Cosmetic Regulations, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations. However, none of these specify requirements for animal testing for cosmetic purposes.

The CCAC is responsible for the oversight of experimental animals in Canada. In 1963 the Medical Research Council asked the national Research Council to create a committee to look into the issue of animals used in research. The Special committee on the Care of Experimental Animals was created to investigate the use of experimental animals.

As a result, in 1968 the Canadian Council on Animal Care was formed with the support of universities and government departments that use animals, to oversee and recommend improvements of experimental animals. It also oversees public funding for animals in research.

The CCAC has developed guidelines for the care and use of experimental animals and has also established assessment panels to oversee the use of animals in universities, government laboratories, and commercial laboratories.

Before these guidelines were established by the CCAC, the only standard in place was the one-page guide of the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies. As a result of these improvements in oversight the quality of care of animals used has improved in Canada. The CFHS sits on the CCAC and is the only animal welfare organization represented.

In 2003 the European Union banned cosmetic testing on animals where alternatives are available, effective 2009.

The CFHS opposes the unnecessary use of animals in cosmetic testing and strongly encourages the use of non-animal models wherever possible.

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