Sunscreen maker Ego admits misleading consumers over SP50 claim

Sunscreen maker Ego admits misleading consumers over SP50 claim

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Australian skincare company Ego Pharmaceuticals has admitted making unsupported claims about the SPF (sun protection factor) on two of its sunscreens – Ego Sunsense Ultra SPF 50+ and Ego Sunsense Sensitive Invisible SPF 50+.

The company supplies products into the New Zealand market via a wholesale distributor and has pleaded guilty to two charges under Section 12A of the Fair Trading Act.

“If you can’t back it up, don’t say it,” observed the New Zealand Commerce Commission, which prosecuted the company.

“Section 12A of the Fair Trading Act 1986 prohibits the making of unsubstantiated representations and came into effect in June 2014.

The law prohibits a trader from making an unsubstantiated representation about goods or services. A representation is unsubstantiated if the trader does not, when the representation is made, have reasonable grounds for making it, said the commission.

Vanessa Horne, GM of fair trading at the Commerce Commission, said Ego had accepted that between February 2019 and June 2020, it did not have any reasonable basis to make the SPF claims on the sunscreen products.

“We opened an investigation into Ego following Consumer NZ’s testing in 2019 and a subsequent complaint filed with the commission,” she explained.

“In 2019 and 2020, Ego claimed that both products provided ‘very high’ protection for consumers and were ‘SPF50+’ under an Australian and New Zealand Standard for sunscreen products.”

Horne said that while Ego had grounds for those claims when first launched, the accumulation of test results between 2017 and 2019 said otherwise.

The two sunscreen products have not been distributed in New Zealand since December 2019, and the company issued a withdrawal notice for the products in 2020.

The case against the company is now before the court, and the commission said it cannot comment further on the matter. Sentencing is scheduled for October 26.

A new mandatory safety standard for sunscreen supplied in New Zealand will be implemented this month. The commission said any businesses that import, manufacture and/or supply sunscreen products into the country must meet the new standard requirements.



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