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August 30, 2016

Chinese cosmetic authority moves to adopt first contemporary animal testing alternative

Humane Society International welcomes NIFDC proposal for alternative skin test

Humane Society International

  • Adam Gault/Getty Images

Humane Society International is praising a significant move by Chinese authorities away from an almost exclusively animal testing paradigm for cosmetics. The National Institutes for Food and Drug Control released a proposal for a new in vitro test standard for cosmetic ingredients as part of China’s ongoing efforts to align its regulatory frameworks with those of key international trading partners, providing technology supporting future trade in cosmetics, and further developing Chinese programs and infrastructures for non-animal test method development and validation.

HSI’s director of research & toxicology, Troy Seidle, said: “It is encouraging to see Chinese cosmetics authorities begin to embrace internationally recognized in vitro methods for cosmetic safety. Continued movement in this direction would be beneficial not only for animal welfare, but also consumer safety, scientific and technological development, and global trade.”

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The alternative method, “In Vitro Skin Corrosion: Transcutaneous Electrical Resistance”, was declared scientifically valid in 1998 by the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods, and adopted in 2004 as an internationally harmonized test guideline of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It has since undergone Chinese laboratory optimization by the NIFDC, the Beijing Institute for Drug Control, the Zhejiang Institute for Food and Drug Control, and the Guangdong Center for Disease Control and Prevention.   


China currently requires pre-market eye and skin testing on animals for all imported and special-use cosmetics, as well as for all cosmetic ingredients, even where existing data from internationally recognized non-animal test methods are available. HSI estimates that as many as 375,000 animals may have been used to meet Chinese pre-market test requirements in 2015 alone. Accelerated adoption of available OECD non-animal tests for eye and skin irritation, skin allergy, phototoxicity and other cosmetic endpoints could reduce this number dramatically.

HSI has provided more than $150,000 in direct funding to support national conferences, educational seminars and in-lab training in OECD alternative tests for Chinese authorities, companies and other stakeholders. The organization also recently signed a collaboration agreement with Guangzhou CHN-ALT Biotech Co. Ltd. to support an ongoing program of education and training in China in the application of superior non-animal testing tools for safety assessment of cosmetics, chemicals and other regulated products.

Media contacts:

China: Tina Qu, tqu@hsi.org
North America: Raul Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org 

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