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Developing alternatives to animal testing

Henkel is responsible for safety, health and environmental matters relating to the production, distribution and use of its products. The ingredients and the finished products are therefore subjected to numerous tests and assessments. Many of these are legally required. Above and beyond this, our own additional in-house standards are designed to ensure that our products have a high level of safety for customers, consumers, and the environment.

Wherever possible, we demonstrate the safety through existing data or through accepted alternative test methods, thus avoiding animal testing. Henkel only ever uses such tests if legal regulations so provide and no accepted alternative test methods are available for obtaining the necessary safety data. Naturally, at the same time, we comply with legal regulations that do not allow animal testing, e.g. testing in order to meet the requirements of the EU legislation on cosmetics.

We would very much like to be able today to answer all questions about the safety of our products and the ingredients we use without any animal testing at all. However, we are obliged to use methods that have been accepted by the legislators. Alternative methods are not yet available for all safety aspects. Additionally, alternative methods will not be able to answer all questions relating to safety. This has been broadly acknowledged. Therefore, it is unfortunately not possible today to avoid animal testing completely.

We have been working intensively for more than three decades on the development of alternative methods to obtain the necessary safety data without animal testing. Significant examples include tests on cell systems – known as in-vitro methods (Latin: “in glass”) – and computer-aided analyses, which help our experts to conduct their safety assessments. Testing and evaluation strategies which efficiently combine information obtained by various methods are becoming increasingly important.
In addition to our continuous research, we are actively involved in efforts to accelerate the acceptance of alternative test methods by the legislators, which currently takes an extremely long time. The aim is to reduce the number of animal tests still further and ultimately avoid animal testing altogether.

Promoting alternatives to animal testing together

On November 7, 2005, the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) was founded in Brussels as a joint initiative between the European Commission, European trade associations and companies, including Henkel, from seven industry sectors. The objective of the partnership is to accelerate the development, validation and acceptance of alternative approaches to animal testing.

In the Brussels 3Rs Declaration, the partners committed to replace, reduce and refine animal testing.

Based on a joint action program, the participating parties not only collaborate to develop alternative methods but also devise new test strategies and evaluation concepts. The progress made has been announced in an annual report since 2006. As a founding member, we have been actively involved in the EPAA action program ever since it was launched.