Home Office facing judicial review over animal testing after admitting it allows experiments for cosmetic ingredients following Brexit

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  15th August 2022

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The UK was the first country to ban animal testing for cosmetics and their ingredients in 1998, but the Home Office has revealed it now allows the experiments for cosmetics


The High Court has granted Cruelty Free International permission to apply for a judicial review against the Home Office with regards to animal testing.

Despite the UK establishing a ban on animal testing for cosmetics and their ingredients in 1998 (being the first country to do so), the Home Office confirmed in a 2021 letter to Cruelty Free International that since leaving the EU it now allows animal testing for cosmetics in the UK.

According to Cruelty Free International, such tests are required ‘even where chemicals are used exclusively as cosmetics ingredients, effectively overturning the cosmetics testing ban’.

The news follows more than 80 companies – including Unilever, Avon, Boots, Waitrose and the Co-op –  joining Cruelty Free International in writing to the Home Office to voice concerns over animal testing for ingredients used in products, which prevent them from being cruelty-free beauty products.

Two arguments

As a result, the High Court has granted permission to apply for a judicial review on two grounds, including a legal argument about whether the law bans these tests such that no licences should be granted.

Secondly, as Cruelty Free International points out, the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 requires assessment of whether the harm that would be caused to animals in terms of suffering, pain and distress is justified by the expected outcome.

Cruelty Free International notes: “The Government is now saying that, with safety testing (not just cosmetics), it has to grant a license for animal testing if that is thought to be scientifically required, without paying any regard to how useful the product is or how much suffering is involved. Cruelty Free International argues that this is wrong.”

Animal testing

In a statement sent to Vegan Food & Living, director of government and regulatory affairs at Cruelty Free International, Kerry Postlewhite said: “This Judicial Review is vital to establish whether there is a ban on cosmetics testing on animals in the UK. 

“The Home Office admitted in its letter of August 2021 to us that it now allows most, if not all, animal testing for cosmetic ingredients – including those used solely in cosmetics.

“The Government seems to be telling the public one thing – that cosmetics animal testing is banned in the UK – and doing something entirely different in practice. 

“We know from poll after poll, that the British people are firmly opposed to animals suffering for beauty. A poll carried out by YouGov last autumn revealed that 85 per cent find it unacceptable to test cosmetics ingredients on animals.”

Want to be better informed on the issue? Get the lowdown on testing by reading our guide to animal testing – the truth behind the lab doors.

 Feature image credit: Andrii Koval/Getty Images

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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