Q. If products aren’t tested on animals (Awesome!), how do companies ensure they’re safe to use?
A. Testing methods that don’t rely on animals as used for demonstrating and predicting the toxicity of chemicals and product formulations are increasing being used in product development applications and for some product categories they are accepted by regulatory authorities to help show a chemical or product is safe.
When consumer products are demonstrated to be safe the safety of the product is identified through the assessment of information both on the consumer’s extent of likely exposure to chemical ingredients in the product as well as the ability of the product’s chemical ingredients to be toxic or cause damage to humans, animals and the environment as determined from toxicity testing. Product safety can be identified without the use of animal testing by using established and scientifically appropriate toxicity tests that don’t rely on using animals as well as by using existing data on the safety of the chemical ingredients.
For a consumer product to be considered safe to use, the data used to assess both exposure and chemical toxicity must be based upon methods that are acceptable under governmental laws and regulations, whether they be methods that use animals or not. Currently, since not all types of toxicity can be adequately evaluated using regulatory accepted non-animal toxicity test methods, and existing safety data is often not available, the determination of many consumer products to be safe must rely on animal testing. However, the availability of established and scientifically accepted non-animal test methods is growing and their development is increasing globally.
Currently, one of the consumer product categories for which the safety of products is being successfully identified by some companies using non-animal testing methods is cosmetics. Also, the US EPA has accepted the use of certain non-animal tests to demonstrate the potential of antimicrobial cleaning products to cause eye irritation. There is growing use of non-animal testing methods in product development programs where they are used to identify the toxicity potential of candidate chemical ingredients and product formulations. Both in the US and globally specific non-animal tests for predicting toxicity are increasingly being accepted for use in the assessment of chemical and product safety.
- Francis Kruszewski, PhD, DABT, ACI Senior Director of Human Health & Safety