Bill S-214 (“Bill”) proposes a prohibition on testing cosmetics on animals and selling cosmetics manufactured using cosmetic animal testing. Introduced by Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen back on December 10, 2015, the Bill would amend the Food and Drugs Act. It is currently before the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

Here are some highlights from the Bill:

  • No cosmetic animal testing in Canada. Cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients could not be topically applied or administered internally to an animal for the purpose of evaluating safety or efficacy.
  • No evidence derived from animal testing. Evidence based on animal testing that was conducted after the Bill is in force could not be submitted or otherwise used to establish the safety of a cosmetic or a cosmetic ingredient.
  • The Minister will have the discretion to authorize and approve animal testing. Approval would only be granted where there is no other alternative method available to evaluate possible human health problems associated with a cosmetic or an ingredient in a cosmetic. Public consultations would be necessary before the Minister would grant approval, so manufacturers are unlikely to obtain authorization easily.
  • The Bill, via its regulations, would allow the government to treat certain drugs (e.g. sunscreens and oral care products) as cosmetics. Such a classification would contribute to blurring the line between cosmetics, drugs and natural health products, and be complicated by parallel proposed amendments to these regulatory categories.

It remains unclear, however, how the Bill will impact the manufacturing and sale process (such as a grace period for the sale of non-compliant products), its application to specific ingredients, and whether compliance enforcement would be directed at manufacturers as well as retailers. Many ingredients found in cosmetics are also in other consumer goods like foods, drugs and household products, but the Bill does not prohibit animal testing for these other consumer goods. The Bill could ,therefore, require Health Canada to apply different evidentiary standards for the same ingredient depending on the category of product.

As of now, the Bill is still in its infancy, it must first get through the Senate and then be considered and passed by the House of Commons where it will  be subject to further amendments. Animal rights groups support the Bill, and consumers are increasingly considering factors like origin, testing and environmental impact when making purchasing decisions. We will keep you apprised of the Bill’s advancement as it moves through the legislative process.