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"Green" sunscreen company warned

Makers of a children’s sunscreen marketed as “organic” have been warned by the Commerce Commission following a complaint from Consumer NZ.

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Consumer NZ’s 2014 test of sunscreens found Green People Organic Children Sun Lotion Medium 25SPF failed to provide broad spectrum protection, despite making a broad spectrum claim. Green People’s own test results confirmed Consumer NZ’s findings.

Following a complaint from Consumer NZ, the commission investigated claims made by The Green People Company that its product provided “broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection”. It also investigated claims the sunscreen was “water repellent” and “fairly traded”.

The commission found Green People risked breaching the Fair Trading Act because the evidence the company relied on to support its broad spectrum and water repellent claims was unlikely to meet the high level of substantiation expected for healthcare products.

It also found the “fairly traded” logo on the sunscreen was potentially misleading as only two of the 19 ingredients were fairly traded.

As a result of the investigation, the New Zealand distributor of the sunscreen stopped importing it and destroyed remaining stock. The commission says it is not taking any further action against Green People.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said she was pleased the misleading product was no longer being sold to Kiwi consumers but this case highlighted the need for a mandatory standard for sunscreens.

“Sunscreens are classified as cosmetics, which means they don’t require approval before they can be sold and products that don’t meet any standard can legally be sold here,” Ms Chetwin says.

Consumer NZ would like sunscreens regulated as a therapeutic product (as they are in Australia) and required to meet the Australian-New Zealand standard for sunscreens.

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