January 31, 2019

This Summer: slip, slop and substantiate!

Concerns of mislabelling the protection provided by sunscreens are increasing (just like these record temperatures) as Consumer NZ investigates claims made by manufacturers.

Tests commissioned by Consumer NZ have found that several brands of sunscreen failed to meet their SPF label claims and found worrying discrepancies in test results. Examples include (i) an Eco Tan Natural Sunscreen claiming high protection of SPF30, but having a low protection of only SPF12; and (ii) Skinnies Sunscreen claiming SPF50 having a result of SPF25.

This investigation highlights the importance of ensuring that businesses make substantiated claims on their products. The Fair Trading Act 1986 (FTA) prohibits businesses from making unsubstantiated representations. Claims (such as quality, origin or cost of a product) must be capable of being proved and based on credible sources. Otherwise, businesses risk fines under the FTA.

Due to the serious ramifications of misleading labelling of sunscreen, public discussion has propelled the topic, which could lead to irreversible brand damage. Consumer NZ has also called for the government to impose a higher standard for sunscreen testing in the upcoming review of therapeutic products.

"These disappointing results follow our first batch of testing, where only four of 10 sunscreens met SPF label claims," Sue Chetwin, Consumer NZ

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