Our focus has been be the Cosmetic Testing Bill, that is, Notice 497 of 2020 which was gazetted in 2021. We have worked hand in glove with government for several years on this, and after a false start, we hoped this year would be the year.
Ensuring South Africa’s cosmetics regulations are in line with countries around the world should help to further improve cosmetics trade and consumer confidence. SA is the EU’s largest trading partner in Africa, and our exports are growing; the composition of these exports is becoming more diverse. In order to export cosmetics into the EU, SA must already abide by the EU’s cosmetics marketing restrictions and ensure that they do not rely on data from animal testing to prove the safety of their cosmetic products or ingredients used therein. Many cosmetic companies that sell products in South Africa also sell products in the EU and other countries where they must already comply with a no-new-animal testing requirement and should be able to do the same for South African consumers.
Although animal testing for cosmetics purposes may not be taking place in South Africa at present, in a similar situation in 2015 when New Zealand passed its law, the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association there said that industry did not need animal tests, adding, “There might be some perception that we are actually testing within New Zealand so it’s actually in the best interests of the exporting industry that we have a ban.”
The Bill was first presented in 2018 but ended up on the back burner, and was streamlined and had to be re-presented, thus Act 497 of 2020 was then presented four times before parliament, when it was recently considered ‘undesirable’ by the ruling party.
The Bill shouldn’t have been contentious, and is not complicated – far from it – it would have been a big international win for the Government, doing the right thing. SA would be, as we have mentioned, the first on the continent to do the right thing.
While 5000+ handwritten signatures had been submitted to parliament in prior years, hundreds of folks, and organisations representing many thousands, restated their commitment in support of the Bill, and 7000+ recent submissions were received in favour of the Bill. However, we will start again with the new parliament in 2024. We remain undefeated. Our gratitude to MP Steve Swart cannot be adequately expressed.