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CEO’s Blog: Cruelty free China update

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We’re looking ahead to progress after coronavirus

As you would expect, our important work for animals in laboratories continues. Although our team is working from home, you’ll be pleased to know that we’re pushing forward with our campaign for a cruelty free world.

Of course, with the ongoing impact of the pandemic, some things are much easier to do than others! Although we can’t travel to China and probably won’t be able to for some time, we’re doing everything we can to continue to secure changes in rules for cosmetics and to bring our Leaping Bunny brands to Chinese consumers without animal testing.

Back in November 2018, we launched our China pilot, the first project of its kind charting a cruelty free path for brands to sell and produce their cosmetic products in China whilst maintaining their Leaping Bunny approval. This was possible thanks to close cooperation between ourselves, brands, Oriental Beauty Valley – the home of cosmetics manufacture in Shanghai – our regulatory advisors Knudsen&CRC and, crucially, the Fengxian district.

Our pilot allowed us to ensure that the expertise was on hand to enable companies to remain free from animal testing and expertly find a way through all the other requirements.

To manage the complex issue of post-market testing – testing that could take place on a product after it has hit the shelves – we worked closely with Oriental Beauty Valley and Fengixan district, Shanghai to be sure that this would not happen to our pilot brands.

Since the launch, there have been some extremely promising developments in Chinese cosmetics regulations. At the beginning of this year, the Chinese State Council passed a draft of the much-anticipated Cosmetics Supervision and Administration Regulation, the primary regulation that governs the production of cosmetics in China. The developments are a signal of potentially positive changes to animal testing requirements. The relevant provision could allow companies selling imported non-special use cosmetics—such as shampoo, body wash, lipstick and lotion—in China to do so without mandatory animal testing. Currently, Chinese rules require tests on animals for all imported cosmetics. The proposed new measure would bring the regulation of imported non-special use cosmetics in line with the requirements for those made domestically in China.

COVID-19 has inevitably delayed publication of the final regulation as the NMPA, China’s medical products and cosmetics governing body, has understandably been prioritising its efforts to tackle the virus. We do not yet know when the new cosmetics regulation will be published, but we are cautiously optimistic and will be following developments closely so we can update you when we have more news.

Also in January, two measures were published by the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation that indicate that, before any animal testing would be carried out on a product, manufacturers would first be notified. This could really help prevent animal testing. Product manufacturers would be able to act before any testing takes place, for example by removing the products from sale. It’s too early for us to know how effective these new measures are in practice, especially with the impact of Covid-19 here and in China, but we will be tracking them with interest.

It’s great to see these positive steps, but rest assured that we won’t be making any decisions to relax our current Leaping Bunny rules for China until we’ve had time to see how they’re bedding down and that they’re making a real difference for animals.

As soon as authorities in China return to their to-do lists, we’re looking forward to turning the dial for cruelty free cosmetics again.

 Michelle Thew


Chief Executive Officer