Tuesday, 12 March 2024 13:33

EU: No animal testing for marketing detergents and surfactants Featured

On February 27, the majority of MEPs voted in favor of a proposal to ban animal testing for detergents and surfactants. However, it is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in animal testing.

The proposal is for a Regulation COM(2023)0217 of the European Parliament and of the Council on detergents and surfactants(1). According to this, Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 (market surveillance and compliance of products) is to be amended and the Detergents Regulation (EC) No 648/2004 is to be repealed(2).

Photo: Pixabay.

According to Article 6a, safety of detergents and surfactants shall be established by new non-animal methods that have been reviewed and adopted at Union level. Accordingly, the marketing of detergents and surfactants, their final formulation, ingredients or combinations of ingredients that have been tested on animals is prohibited. The performance of animal tests with detergent and surfactant finished products, ingredients or combinations of ingredients within the Union is also prohibited. The use of historical data should be permitted. Where appropriate, the Commission should validate relevant alternative test methods and exemptions and promote the exchange of information between all relevant stakeholders to support the development of non-animal test methods.

According to EU Regulation 648/2004, which is currently still in force, a detergent is a substance or preparation containing soaps and/or other surfactants and intended for washing and cleaning processes. It is intended to facilitate the cleaning process by reducing the interfacial tension between the surface to be cleaned, the dirt and the solvent (usually water). They can be naturally occurring or synthetically produced surfactants (= emulsifiers) and wetting agents. Surfactants are generally washing-active substances (detergents) that are contained in detergents, washing-up liquids and shampoos. Detergents can be intended for household, institutional or industrial purposes.  

According to Annex IV, 4.2.2 of the Detergents Regulation (EC) No. 648/2004, toxicity tests are carried out on test liquids with fish, daphnia, algae and bacteria if the studies are necessary and appropriate. The Federal Council in Germany has already commented on the proposal. The Federal Council in Germany has already commented on the proposal. In principle, it welcomes the Commission's efforts to amend the provisions for detergents and surfactants, but has noted that the proposal for the regulation contains ambiguities in many places, some of which result from the translation or from incomprehensible references and missing definitions. It therefore suggests reviewing the proposed regulation and making any necessary adjustments(3).The elimination of animal testing is not criticized. Toxicity tests should only be carried out with microorganisms.

However, the end product of a detergent and cleaning agent contains many more substances for which animal testing is required under chemicals legislation, the Biocidal Products Directive or occupational safety regulations. An example list of ingredients is provided by the Federal Environment Agency(4).

(1) https://www.dnr.de/aktuelles-termine/aktuelles/reinigungsmittel-ohne-tierversuche
(2) European Parliament.Texts adopted. February 27, 2024. Online. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2024-02-27_DE.html
(3) Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on detergents and surfactants, amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 and repealing Regulation (EC) No 648/2004, COM(2023) 217 final; Council document 8904/23. Status of the political dialogue of the Member States on COM/2023/0217 (online). https://secure.ipex.eu/IPEXL-WEB/document/COM-2023-0217
(4) Federal Environment Agency (2024). Detergents and cleaning agents. Ingredients. (online). https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/themen/chemikalien/wasch-reinigungsmittel/inhaltsstoffe#q-bis-z