Company’s SPF claim may have misled consumers, Commerce Commission says.
The maker of a sunscreen that failed to meet its sun protection claim in our 2019 test has been told by the Commerce Commission it risked misleading consumers and breaching the Fair Trading Act.
Our test of Natio Suncare Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF50+ found it had an SPF of 38.78, not the 50+ claimed on the label. At the time of our test, the company said the label claim was backed by test results but declined to provide them to us.
In December, we provided our test results to the commission.
The commission tested a different batch of the sunscreen, manufactured about a year after the product we bought. The sunscreen tested by the commission had an SPF of 109.7.
In a letter to Natio, the commission advised it was concerned about the significant variation in SPF between batches.
The commission stated it was “concerned that representations made about Suncare SPF50+ in relation to its SPF and compliance with standards may be false, misleading and/or unsubstantiated”.
The Fair Trading Act prohibits traders from making misleading or unsubstantiated product claims. The commission recommended Natio seeks legal advice on complying with the law.
Natio has since provided us with a 2013 test report for its sunscreen. This report is from AMA Laboratories, a testing facility in the US. In August 2019, the Food and Drug Administration announced AMA’s owner had been charged with, and some staff had pleaded guilty to, falsifying test results from 1987 to April 2017.
For many years, sunscreen manufacturers have been sending us test results from AMA that conflicted with our tests. We think companies relying on these results should urgently re-test to ensure they can back up claims.