The Cancer Society says it is in dispute with Consumer NZ over conflicting results on the rating of one of its sunscreen products
The dispute is over the SPF (sun protection factor) rating of one of what the society says is one of its most important sunscreens - SPF 50+ Kids Pure sunscreen.
"In an effort to resolve the matter, the Cancer Society asked Consumer NZ to join it in having the product tested in a mutually agreed laboratory totally independent of either organisation," the society said in a written statement.
"Consumer NZ declined, saying an additional test on the Cancer Society's product would be unfair to other companies."
Consumer responded to the society's statement by saying it rejected the society's claims.
Earlier this month the Herald reported that a 4-month-old baby's mother said the child was suffering "horrific" blister burns after SPF 50 Cancer Society sunscreen failed to protect him.
The Cancer Society confirmed at the time that an investigation into all complaints received this summer is under way.
Today, Cancer Society chief executive Mike Kernaghan said fairness was at the heart of the re-testing proposal as an independent testing regime, with an agreed methodology, was the only fair and honest way of giving consumers, and particularly those using Cancer Society products, the confidence they deserved.
He said that as a way of supporting its position Consumer NZ was saying that, while the ingredients in the cociety's product were the same, the preservatives had have changed, which was totally inaccurate.
"At this point, each of our organisations is claiming significantly different results from SPF testing on the same product.
"We are confirming that our independent testing and re-testing on the same product conducted in 2018 and 2016 shows the SPF50+ Kids Pure returned results of SPF 60 and SPF 67.6, well above the label claim [of] SPF 50+.
"On the other hand, Consumer NZ is claiming its testing shows the sunscreen was SPF 41.
"It is our strong belief that Consumer NZ's results were compromised by the product being decanted into non-compliant containers in New Zealand and then sent to Australia for testing.
"This is important – because the bottles our sunscreens are packaged in are designed to maintain the quality and effectiveness of the sun screen as a medical product.
"In circumstances where our organisations cannot resolve our differences, the only fair and honest thing is to have testing conducted by an unrelated, independent third-party laboratory.
"We hoped Consumer NZ would agree, as no organisation – not even Consumer NZ – has a monopoly on accuracy."
Kernaghan said in the face of disputed results the Cancer Society was not willing to sit idly by while Consumer NZ created headlines undermining confidence in its products.
"The products that carry our brand are made in Australia where there are rigorous standards in place to ensure they meet the claims on the label, including certification by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) - part of the Australian Government's Department of Health.
"Our manufacturers are audited by the TGA (Australia's version of Medsafe) regularly to ensure the production of our sunscreen complies under the medicine label.
"The Cancer Society is one of New Zealand's most trusted organisations. We will continue to have our products independently tested to ensure that people are provided a very high-level of protection when using Cancer Society sunscreen."
Kernaghan said that one thing the two organisations agreed on was that sunscreen products manufactured and distributed in New Zealand should be regulated, just as they were in Australia.
Responding to Kernaghan today, Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said its test of the Cancer Society's Kids Pure Low Irritant Sun Lotion SPF50+ showed it provided high protection (SPF41), but not the very high protection claimed.
Chetwin said the Cancer Society product was tested by an accredited lab and was a 10-person test carried out according to the voluntary Australian and New Zealand sunscreen standard (AS/NZS 2604:2012).
"We provided the opportunity for the Cancer Society to send us its own test results for the product. It provided results for a three-person test, not the full 10-subject test we'd expect given the difference we found in the product's SPF."
Chetwin rejected the Cancer Society's claim that Consumer NZ's results were compromised by the fact it decanted the sunscreen into a light-proof container before sending the sample to the lab.
"It's common for samples to be sent blind in this way and the sunscreen was packed according to the lab's instructions," she said.
"Rather than attacking us, we suggest the Cancer Society put its resources into its own sunscreen testing programme