Inconsistencies in the new EU animal testing ban mean we still need to look for the 'cruelty free' label

The EU animal testing ban – why the ‘leaping bunny’ logo is still important

26 February, 2013

On 11 March 2013, the EU will implement the final phase of its ban on testing on animals for cosmetics. The sale and import of animal tested products and ingredients within the EU will be outlawed, something that Cruelty Free International and its founding organisation the BUAV have been campaigning to achieve for many years.

However, whilst this is a fantastic victory for animals, a note of caution should be sounded. Inconsistencies in the wording of the law, as well as its geographical limitation, mean that its effectiveness as an assurance of no-animal-testing is severely limited. Additionally there are likely to be problems with how the law is enforced in the different member states of the EU.

Inconsistencies in the law

There are a number of outstanding issues with the ban’s text, which are yet to be clarified by the European Commission or, ultimately, the European Court.  The term ‘cosmetic ingredient’ is yet to be clearly defined, the scope of the ban is still in question (for example whether it applies to environmental testing), and it is currently unclear whether ingredients that are animal tested to meet other regulatory requirements can be used.

The leaping bunny assures you of a cruelty-free product

Until full guidance is given, it is sadly likely that many companies that have not yet joined the Leaping Bunny programme may seek to continue to use animal-tested ingredients in some circumstances.

And some limitations                                   

The ban only applies to the EU. Until the remaining 80% of the world bans animal testing for cosmetics the Leaping Bunny remains a relevant and robust global symbol. Although Croatia and Norway have implemented a partial ban, and the import and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and household products is banned in Israel, there are no restrictions on animal testing for cosmetics in many parts of the world such as the USA and Asia.

Another problem with the ban is that it will be up to each EU country to enforce the ban, and many may not yet have the knowledge and resources to do so effectively.

The Leaping Bunny

We urge shoppers to still look for the Leaping Bunny after the ban comes into force, and to only buy cosmetics and personal care products bearing the Bunny logo.

The Leaping Bunny, operated in the UK by Cruelty Free International, is the only international no-animal-testing certification. It is a global standard and applies to all of the operations and sales of companies, not just those for the EU. We only certify companies that have a policy not to test their products on animals, enabling consumers to reward those companies who do not use animal tests for any market.   This makes it highly relevant for consumers who wish to shop with companies who have gone beyond the legal minimum, which in turn encourages the development of alternative methods.

We certify whole companies, rather than individual products, so you can buy any product carrying this logo with total peace of mind. Companies certified under the Leaping Bunny programme must allow regular independent audits to ensure that they continue to meet our strict criteria. Leaping Bunny certification is also only awarded to companies who have decided not to enter the Chinese market, because of the legal requirement to animal test imported cosmetics there.

For a full list of certified companies, visit


  • Neal’s Yard Remedies has been Leaping Bunny certified for almost ten years now, giving caring consumers a guarantee that their entire supply chain is free from animal testing.