We Are Sunshine

TODAY’S HEADLINE STORY: New Zealand Consumer Tests Show Many Sunscreens Fail SPF Test

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

A leading consumer group in New Zealand is calling for several sunscreen products to be recalled, claiming that two of New Zealand’s most popular sunscreens have failed to meet their sun protection (SPF) claims.

One of the products carries the New Zealand Cancer Society’s label.

2008-06-11-failing-the-test-copy.jpgConsumer NZ, which commissioned the testing, wants the products to be recalled. They are: Cancer Society Roll-On Sunscreen SPF 30+ and Australian-made SunSense Ultra SPF 30+. A third sunscreen, the Cancer Society’s Sunscreen with Insect Repellent SPF 30+ failed its Broad Spectrum claim and it should also be recalled, says Consumer CEO Sue Chetwin.

“We decided to test the 30+ SPF and Broad Spectrum claims of the country’s 10 most popular sunscreens after a test we commissioned on a Cancer Society Trigger Spray failed to meet its SPF 30+ claim earlier this year. We were most disappointed to find that more Cancer Society sunscreens failed to meet their label claims.”

According to a press release issued by Consumer NZ, the SunSense sunscreen reached an average SPF of 25.5 in the tests and the Cancer Society Roll-On Sunscreen reached an average 28.5 SPF. According to Consumer NZ, the Australian/New Zealand standard for sunscreens is not compulsory in New Zealand, but is in Australia. The group is urging the government to reclassify sunscreens as therapeutic products rather than as cosmetics, so that any claims about protection have to be supported by test evidence.

Sunscreens are regulated as cosmetics in the United States but are regulated as medications under the Drug Act in Canada. Consumer groups have raised similar concerns in North America.

Chetwin said Consumer NZ had serious concerns about the Australian testing regime for sunscreens. While a product has to be tested before it’s released for sale, there’s no requirement to clinically retest the product’s actual performance. “We say there should be retesting to guarantee that a sunscreen manufactured year after year still meets its SPF and Broad Spectrum claims to ensure that consumers are being protected.”

Consumer NZ also claims test results also raise questions about the stability of the active ingredients in sunscreens once they’re stored on shop shelves.

New Zealand Cancer Society products make up 60 percent of the sunscreens sold in New Zealand, the group claims, alleging three of its products have now failed to meet their label claims. “We think the society needs to take manufacturing standards for its products much more seriously. It, along with SunSense, must also urgently recall any products still on sale that failed to meet their label claims,” Chetwin said.

The consumer group still encourages sunscreen usage to prevent sunburn.