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Schumer: New report shows nearly half of all sunscreens make false claims about SPF protection

Senator Pushes FDA to Test Sunscreens and Crack Down on Misleading Labels

July 21, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer on Thursday called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch an investigation into deceptive Sun Protection Factor (SPF) marketing, following a study released by Consumer Reports that suggests that 43 percent of sunscreen products fail to meet the SPF claim on the label.

“There is simply no doubt about it — some consumers are being totally burned when they buy sunscreen, which is why the FDA must give sunscreen labels the third degree,” said Schumer. “With beach season officially in full swing and with a New York City heat wave on the way, the FDA needs to make sure the SPF labels on sunscreen products match the SPF protection being offered.”

While the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher, the recently released study suggests that some consumers are not being offered the level of protection they believe they are using. For instance, of the sunscreen products test by Consumer Reports, at least two products with SPF 50 labels only offered an SPF 8 level of protection — far less protection than the AAD recommends.

The FDA does not consistently test sunscreen products but rather requires manufacturers test their own products for SPF levels. Schumer today said that, in light of this report, the FDA should move forward with a full-on investigation into SPF claims on popular sunscreen products and crackdown on deceptive companies. 

“In light of this new study that reveals nearly half of tested sunscreens are offering less protection than its label claims, the FDA should launch a full-on investigation into deceptive SPF marketing,” said Schumer. “Beachgoers and vacationers deserve the peace of mind to know that the sunscreen they’re using is offering legitimate protection against the sun’s harmful rays.”

Schumer said that proper SPF labeling is important because of the prevalence of skin cancer in this country. According to the Center for Disease Control, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. According to the AAD, more than 8,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. On average, one American dies from melanoma every hour. The AAD recommends everyone to protect their skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. 

The FDA first looked into the deceptive practices of sunscreen products more than 30 years ago, but since that time, the rate of melanoma has doubled in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 76,380 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2016. Schumer has been pushing the FDA to tighten its standards on labeling for years, helping to get new standards in place in 2011.

Schumer is also urging the FDA to finalize sunscreen rules that were created based on the 2014 passed legislation, the Sunscreen Innovation Act.  Schumer said the FDA has been dragging its feet in their testing of ultra-effective sunscreen ingredients that better protects individuals from sunburn and skin cancer. The FDA has been reviewing some of these ingredients for over a decade, and the superior sunscreens are available in almost every other country in the world.

Schumer said that the FDA plays an integral role in determining the safety of the chemicals sold in products in the U.S. and should continue its strong oversight. However, products containing these chemicals have been sold overseas for more than two decades and FDA should finalize rules that allow for these ingredients and sunscreens to be tested in an expeditious and efficient way.  

—Information from U.S. Sen. Schumer’s Office

 


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