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Sunscreen companies settle with Commission

Sunscreen companies settle with Commission

The Commerce Commission has reached settlements with four sunscreen companies that have admitted to misleading consumers about the protection from the sun offered by their products.

The Commission investigated and tested four product ranges after complaints laid by the Cancer Society that it was misleading under the Fair Trading Act for the products to claim to provide all day protection from the sun, from just one application of the sunscreen.

In December the Commission announced some of the products tested did not meet the claims made, and the Commission would initiate court action if the companies did not take immediate corrective steps.

Commission Chair Paula Rebstock says she is very pleased the companies have responded in a responsible manner. "It is most important when consumers have been misled that the matter is corrected as quickly as possible. In this case all parties have worked swiftly to address the issues, without the need for court proceedings."

The companies the Commission has entered into settlements with are Tanning Research Laboratories (inc), which manufactures Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens; BDM Grange Ltd, which imports, promotes and distributes Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens; CSL Biotherapies (NZ) Ltd, which imports, promotes and distributes Daylong sunscreen (which is manufactured by Spirig Pharma AG, in Switzerland); and Once Trading Co Ltd, which imports, distributes and promotes Once sunscreen (which is manufactured by Dermatol Inc, in Canada).

The settlements with the four companies acknowledge that they breached the Fair Trading Act.

The companies have agreed to immediately withdraw from sale any products which do not meet the SPF claims made on the labels, ensure any future product labels and packaging are accurate and meet the Fair Trading Act requirements, and carry out corrective advertising.

"This case reinforces that companies operating in New Zealand need to be aware of and compliant with the Fair Trading Act. Compliance with an overseas sunscreen standard will not necessarily prevent any representations made in respect of that product from being in breach of the Fair Trading Act," says Ms Rebstock.

Ms Rebstock says it is vital that consumers can rely on the information provided on packaging.

"Consumers should not have to find out the hard way, through sunburn and skin damage, that a sunscreen doesn't provide the protection claimed. The onus is on manufacturers and distributors to ensure the claims made on their products about SPF are accurate," says Ms Rebstock.

The Commission arranged testing of the SPF factors of the sunscreen products at the Australian Photobiology Testing Facility (APTF). These results were reported on in the context of New Zealand sun conditions by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA). The following results were found.

Hawaiian Tropic:
SPF 15 Plus Sunblock (batch code no. 4151H) – failed to meet SPF claim
Kids Splash SPF 30 Sunblock (batch code no. 5007H) –failed to meet SPF claim
SPF 30 Sunblock (batch code no. 5205M)- failed to meet SPF claim
Baby Faces SPF 50+ Sunblock (batch code no. 5017J)- failed to meet SPF claim but can provide all day protection
Sunjunk SPF 45 – met all claims made on packaging

Daylong Kids SPF30+- met all claims made on packaging
Daylong SPF 30+ - met all claims made on packaging
Daylong SPF 15+ (batch code no.CO71) – failed to meet all day protection claim
Once Sunscreen
Exceeded its stated SPF but could not provide the protection claimed with the quantity of sunscreen recommended for application.
Piz Buin 1 Day Long
Met all claims made on packaging.


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