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Animal Testing

Volume 201: debated on Monday 13 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to use section 5(5) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to ensure that projecct licences are not issued for animal tests for skin or eye irritancy where alternative testing methods are available.

All applicants for project licences for whatever purposes are required to show that they have given thorough consideration to the possibility of using alternatives to the use of living animals in their proposed programme of work. At present there are no validated and accepted alternative testing methods to existing skin and eye irritancy tests.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any of the project licences currently issued under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 permit animal testing for skin or eye irritancy for the purpose of developing cosmetics or toiletries.

There are currently four project licences in force which authorise the use of living animals in the safety testing of cosmetics or toiletries. All authorise the use of animals in tests to ensure that substances used in cosmetics are not skin irritants and three of them authorise tests to ensure that such substances are not eye irritants.The definition of cosmetics used in this country follows that used by the European Community and includes such items as shampoos, sunscreens and toothpastes. In view of the purposes of such products, skin and eye irritancy tests are carried out as part of a package of tests required to ensure that substances to be used in cosmetics are safe. Skin and eye irritancy tests will normally only be applied to animals after in vitro pre-screening tests have shown the substance in question to be a non-irritant thus reducing the possibility of adverse reactions to the animals involved.