Current alternatives to animal testing in Europe: SCCS publishes the last updates

With Cosmetic Regulation 1223/2009, Europe proclaimed a total ban on animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients. This ban, which fully entered into force in 2013, is the result of a long process started in 1993 to avoid any animal suffering for cosmetic reasons.

Despite the decision being a step forward regarding animal’s rights, Vice-Chair of SCCS reports that it brings up a challenge to find a reliable alternative to animal testing in order to ensure safety of cosmetic products.

In April 2020, the Methodology Working Group of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) published a review summarizing the outcomes of the workshop organised in February 2019.

The review presents an up-to-date overview of several studies performed by the working group over the last years in order to define a robust “New Approach Methodologies“ that could be used to evaluate the risk associated to a specific cosmetic product and/or substance.

Those methods, instead of focusing on the data obtained from tested animals, are based on a combination of computational modelling, in chimico, in silico, in vitro and ex vivo approaches. They can be used in the “Next Generation Risk Assessments” to provide safety decisions relevant for human health without the use of new animal data.

According to the SCSS, the results obtained are encouraging, but the review also presents possible limits of those new methods. Concerns are raised about testing complex issues,  such as carcinogenicity, repeated use and/or combination use with other cosmetic products.

The SCCS believes that further research has to be performed in order to produce robust and reliable approaches. The cosmetic industry is invited to pro-actively join this challenge and apply the Next Generation Risk Assessment concept to dossiers for new compounds.


Valeria Piattelli

Regulatory Affairs Department

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