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Multi national company tries to sidestep
animal cosmetics testing ban


ONE OF the world's leading cosmetic companies planned to sidestep an EU animal-testing ban by conducting the experiments outside Europe, according to a leaked memo.

Proctor & Gamble, which makes Head & Shoulders shampoo and Max Factor make-up, and also owns IAMS pet foods, proposed testing cosmetic ingredients outside the EU while being "able to market them in EU countries".

An internal memo sent to its chairman, Alan Lafley, by Barbara Slatt, a senior US executive, also revealed the company planned to lobby governments to delay the EU legislation by up to 10 years.

In the memo, dated 18 June 2002, Ms Slatt said it was important to keep P&G out of the "media spotlight". She warned: "It would be damaging to be seen as the company lobbying to test on animals, against public opinion."

Outlawed

Britain banned animal testing for cosmetics in 1998 and the European Parliament voted earlier this year to introduce an EU-wide testing ban. Member governments will meet MEPs this week to try to reach a deal on the legislation.

An amendment to the European Cosmetics Directive, which would have outlawed the sale in Europe of products tested on animals anywhere, had to be abandoned. Most EU members, including Britain, opposed a sales ban because they believed it would contravene world trade laws.

There is no suggestion that the company planned to break EU law. However, Ms Slatt suggested that P&G lobby against the parliament and develop a "fallback position" to ensure a ban on marketing cosmetics tested on animals was delayed.

"We must work with MS [member state] governments to ensure that they oppose the restrictive position of the parliament, and that an acceptable compromise can be achieved."

Ms Slatt suggested the company could continue testing outside the EU if the directive came into force. "A cosmetics testing ban in Europe is expected to be manageable, since the vast majority of our safety testing is conducted elsewhere. We are in a more favourable position than regional EU cosmetic companies ... We can still carry out safety tests for other GBU's [global business units] and apply the results to cosmetics. Equally, we can conduct tests on cosmetic ingredients for regulatory purposes outside of the EU and still be able to market them in EU countries."

Wendy Higgins, the campaigns director of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, accused P&G of trying to hide its position on animal testing. "They know that people are unlikely to buy products that have been tested on animals."

P&G said it did not comment on internal documents but insisted it was "committed to the elimination of animal testing" while ensuring products were safe and complied with safety legislation across the world.

A P&G spokesman said: "It is our intent to fully abide by the letter and the spirit of any future EU law. Therefore, like many others, we are seeking a middle- ground option that ensures human safety but allows a realistic time for development, validation and, importantly, government regulatory approval in those areas where alternatives are still required. P&G has already invested £103m in developing alternatives to animal testing and are very active in the EU Scientific Committee developing alternatives.

Firing line

"P&G has already stopped finished product tests on all non-drug, non-food products and only tests on animals where required by law or where no validated alternative exists."

• Last year, Proctor & Gamble were in the firing line when animal rights campaigners distributed literature at Crufts claiming that the company’s IAMS pet food division had conducted invasive and fatal tests on dogs and cats to monitor effects of the food. The claims were rebutted by an IAMS division spokesperson who stated that the tests had been conducted several years previously in American Universities and that the company now had a strict policy not to conduct invasive and harmful tests on animals.