Labour is reassuring consumers that a proposed ban on cosmetics tested on animals will not strip popular makeup and beauty brands from New Zealand shelves.

The party joined the Greens yesterday in committing itself to formally banning the testing of cosmetics on animals by manufacturers here, and to blocking all imported products which depended on animal trials.

New Zealand cosmetics manufacturers are already blocked from using animals to test their finished products, but Labour's policy would mean their ingredients would also have to be free of animal testing.

Labour's animal welfare spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said the ban would apply to cosmetics, toiletries and fragrances but not medicines. He said most New Zealanders felt testing cosmetics on defenceless animals was "abhorrent".


About 90 per cent of the cosmetics sold in New Zealand are imported. It is not clear how many would be affected by Labour's policy.

Mr Mallard said popular companies such as M.A.C made their products in Italy, which was subject to an EU ban on animal testing. Australia, India and Israel had similar bans.

Some major companies also produced ranges for countries such as China, which has until recently required imported beauty products to be tested on animals. The testing was done by China's regulatory authorities, not the company.

An online database compiled by US animal rights group Peta tracking which companies use animal tests listed a number of popular brands.

But both animal rights groups and makeup importers said the vast majority of imports came from the EU and were therefore "cruelty-free".

National Anti-Vivisection Society spokesman Stephen Manson said: "There might be a few products, but it's not like you're going to see shelves emptying. The EU's a huge market and anything that's sold there can be imported here. I can't see it having a massive impact as far as consumer choice goes."

Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrance Association spokesman Garth Wyllie said the proposed ban was likely to affect only cheap products imported from Asian countries.

Mr Mallard announced the policy at a vet's clinic in Wellington.