On August 20, the Taiwan Food & Drug Administration (TFDA) declared its intention to reduce animal tests and elevate non-animal methods in its health food certification scheme.
The decision comes soon after a TFDA proposal to add new animal testing items for joint health claims—a move vigorously opposed by EAST and other organizations—and signals a positive new policy direction for animals in Taiwan.
Specifically, the TFDA committed to major improvements for health food safety testing—most notably requiring the priority use of non-animal methods, meaning animal testing may only be used when it can be proven there are no suitable alternatives. The TFDA will also require a tiered-approach to genotoxicity tests in which in-vivo tests are permitted only when results of in-vitro tests indicate the necessity, and mandatory training for those conducting tests on animals.
In addition, the TFDA agreed to remove animal-based efficacy tests for health food claims made about combatting fatigue and regulating blood pressure—with one experiment design for the former requiring rats be placed in water and forced to swim until they reach exhaustion and drown.
The TFDA will also review its plan to add new animal testing items to authenticate joint health claims—instead striving to move towards non-animal methods—in response to calls from EAST.
“EAST applauds the TFDA for acknowledging that Taiwan must move away from unnecessary and ineffective animal testing, in line with the global momentum towards humane, non-animal alternatives” said EAST researcher Hsin-Yi Yao.
Taiwan’s health food certification scheme is a government-run initiative to assess marketing claims on food products touting benefits to human health. Approximately 20,000 animals per year are used in efficacy and safety tests by companies seeking certification by the scheme, of which rodents make up the greatest number.
EAST has campaigned against the use of animals to assess claims about human health since 2018.
Hsin-Yi (Sally) Yao, Researcher
Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST)
Mobile: 0935 596 996
Phone: 02 22369735