The Court of Justice of the European Union, EU’s top court, has ruled the issue of animal testing outside the EU in order that the cosmetic products containing certain ingredients could be sold in third countries (in that case: China and Japan) as required by their regulations.

According to the Court, the placing on the EU market of cosmetic products containing some ingredients that have been tested on animals outside the EU in order to market those products in third countries may be prohibited if the data resulting from that testing is used to prove the safety of the products concerned for the purposes of placing them on the EU market.

The European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients (‘EFfCI’) seized the British courts about three of its members which conducted animal testing outside the EU in order that the cosmetic products containing certain ingredients could be sold in China and Japan. The EFfCI wanted the courts to establish whether the three companies concerned would incur criminal penalties if they were to place on the British market cosmetic products containing ingredients that have been tested on animals.

EFfCI argued that the companies did not break the law since the animal testing had been carried out to comply with regulations in third countries.

Taking into account the context and objects pursued by the regulation on cosmetic products (prohibits the marketing of products containing ingredients which have been tested on animals) [1], the Court considers that the objective of the regulation is to establish the conditions for access to the EU market for cosmetic products and to ensure a high level of protection of human health, whilst also ensuring the well-being of animals by prohibiting animal testing. Access to the EU market is conditional upon compliance with the prohibition of animal testing.

The Court adds that EU law makes no distinction depending on where the animal testing was carried out. The regulation seeks to promote the use of non-animal alternative methods to ensure the safety of cosmetic products. According to the Court, the attainment of that objective would be seriously compromised if the prohibitions laid down in EU law could be circumvented by carrying out the animal testing in third countries.

We are very pleased that EFfCI’s attempt to circumnavigate the ban has been roundly rejected by the Court. This is a victory both for common sense, and for the public who passionately back the landmark animal testing ban,” said Michelle Thew, Chief Executive of Cruelty Free International and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments.