Cruelty-free: Australia’s animal testing ban finally realised as AICIS comes into effect

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Australia is finally is implementing a ban on cosmetic testing on animals. GettyImages
Australia is finally is implementing a ban on cosmetic testing on animals. GettyImages

Related tags Animal testing cruelty free Australia Regulation

Australia is finally is implementing a ban on cosmetic testing on animals as the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) comes into effect, after multiple delays.

AICIS replaced the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) on July 1, 2020​ as the new national regulator of the importation and manufacture of industrial chemicals in Australia.

One of the most anticipated changes of this reform is the new restrictions on animal test data for cosmetics.

The rules state that any new cosmetic ingredients manufactured in, or imported into Australia, will not be able to use information from animal testing to prove its safety.

“There is strong public support to introduce a ban on cosmetic testing on animals. This ban will bring Australia into line with the EU and other countries introducing a ban on using data from tests on animals for determining the risks of new cosmetic ingredients,” ​said the Australian government in a statement.

With this ban, it hopes to encourage new methods of testing that do not rely on the use of animals, for chemicals with any industrial use, including cosmetics.

Cosmetics that are already on the market will not be affected by the ban.

The Australian government assured that this ban would not impact the safety of new cosmetic ingredients introduced into the market.

“The legislation allows for a range of alternate data sources to be provided instead of animal test data. This can include recognised international alternatives to animal tests, for example, tests validated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), computer-based modelling and information from existing animal test data of a similar chemical.”

In this case, if the information requirements cannot be met using non-animal test data, the new cosmetic ingredient may not be introduced.

The exemptions

According to the AICIS Industrial Chemicals (General) Rules 2019​, there will be exceptions made to this ban.

For instance, exemptions will be made if the data demonstrates that the chemical has a hazard characteristic.

It will also apply if animal tests are the only available test to demonstrate whether or not the chemical has a particular environment hazard characteristic.

“Like the EU, the legislation allows for animal test data to be considered for environmental hazards where there are no available alternative means of assessing the risk. The Act also ensures that an introducer cannot ignore animal data that shows the chemical could harm humans or the environment,” ​said the government.

Lastly, AICIS will also accept animal tests that have been done on a “different but related chemical”. This exemption will only apply on a chemical meant for end use in cosmetics.

The authorities noted that these exemptions were necessary to protect human health and the environment, and to align as far as possible with comparable international restrictions.

“Exceptions are consistent with the European Union’s regulation and are necessary to protect human health and the environment. While there is a trend away from animal testing, it does enable understanding some of these risks.”

While the ban will cover most cosmetics, it will not apply to multi-use chemicals such as perfumes used in cosmetics and cleaning products.

However, the government noted that less than 1% of these multi-use cosmetic ingredients used animal test information to prove their safety.

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