The Cancer Society has urgently recalled its own sunscreen after tests showed it failed to meet its sun protection claim.
The Trigger Spray SPF 30+ received an average SPF (sun protection factor) reading of only 23.3 after Consumer NZ commissioned tests following complaints that people had been sunburnt after using the spray.
The SPF is a measure of a sunscreen's protection against the sun's ultraviolet radiation.
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the Cancer Society was given the findings this week and had retested them, as well as doing their own. Those tests also showed a significant failure.
"This is a major public health issue, particularly in New Zealand with its high rate of melanoma and its high UV levels.
"The Cancer Society needs to look at urgently testing all its products," Ms Chetwin said.
Consumer began the testing in November after a user complained she had noticed several people, including her daughter, had been burnt even after they applied the spray regularly.
"We asked the Cancer Society for evidence to support the claim and were sent test results that showed the product had an average SPF of 31.1 when tested to the sunscreen standard on 10 people with different skin types."
But those tests were done in 2001, so Consumer did its own tests. Preliminary results issued in December indicated the spray would not meet its claim.
"This was of major concern but Consumer did not want to cause unnecessary alarm if the tests proved wrong so it commissioned the lab to test to the full standard," Ms Chetwin said.
Cancer Society chief executive Dalton Kelly said last night he was "mystified" by the results. "We had the same batch tested at the same laboratory and those results were all positive ... One even reached SPF 35."
The society was last night beginning the process of recalling the product from shop shelves. Mr Kelly said there wasn't a huge volume to recall because the spray represented less than 3 per cent of the society's product and it was well into the summer.
People who had already bought the spray could return it for a refund.