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Animal Experiments: Licensing

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what definition her Department uses of household products in respect of the granting of animal testing licences; and if she will make a statement. (274952)

[holding answer 12 May 2009]: There is no authoritative definition of the term ‘household products’ and it is not defined in any national or international legislation. However, in the context of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, regard is paid to the definition of finished household products as set out in the 2002 publication on “The Use of Animals in Testing Household Products” produced by the Boyd Group, a forum encompassing a wide rage of expertise and perspectives concerned with the use of animals in scientific procedures. All products that are primarily intended for use in the home fall within the sub-category of ‘Substances used in the household’ and would include such products as detergents and other laundry products, household cleaners, air-fresheners, toilet blocks, polishes, paper products such as infant nappies, paints, glues (and removers), other furnishing and DIY products and household pesticides. The sub-category applies to both finished household products and their ingredients, although in practice mainly the latter are tested.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many animal testing licences were granted for the testing of household products in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement. (274953)

[holding answer 12 May 2009]: Project licences are not granted under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 for the sole purpose of household product testing or the testing of their ingredients. Any such testing is conducted under project licences authorising the regulatory safety testing of a range of materials. The number of procedures conducted for the testing of household products and their ingredients has fallen significantly since 1997 and the number of licences used for this purpose in any particular year is consequently very low.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what species of animals have been used in the testing of household products under licences issued by her Department in the last five years; how many animals of each species have been so used; and if she will make a statement. (274954)

[holding answer 12 May 2009]: The number of adult animals used for the first time in scientific procedures on living animals started in Great Britain for toxicology or other safety/efficacy evaluation in relation to substances used in the household, in 2003-07 was:

2007: one rabbit (1)

2006: Nil (0)

2005: 21 mice, 90 rats (111)

2004: 95 mice, 65 rats, 20 guinea pigs, 12 rabbits, 80 ‘Any fish species’ (272)

2003: 98 mice, 83 rats, 41 guinea pigs, 12 rabbits, (234).

The available information is published in Table 9a (previously 10a) in the Department's annual publication Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain, copies of which are available from the Library of the House and from the Department's website:

Information relating to procedures started in 2008 is planned to be published in July 2009.

The justification for the testing of household products or their ingredients is the need for regulatory authorities to have sufficient information to assess the risks to which humans, animals, plants or the environment are exposed (and their efficacy if relevant), as required by national and international legislations, when these products or their ingredients are produced, transported or used.

Animal tests are authorised when the purpose of the test cannot be achieved by any other reasonably practicable method not entailing the use of protected animals. Account will be taken of physico-chemical properties of the test substance, computer modelling and structure-activity relationships, and results of in-vitro screening if appropriate which will inform the need and type of animal test needed.