Substandard sunscreens could be on shelves for more summers as product safety Bill remains in transition period

The Cancer Society is concerned the transition period for a Bill regulating New Zealand sunscreen standards means inadequate products can remain on the shelves.

Substandard sunscreens could stay on New Zealand shelves for two more summers before the Sunscreen Product Safety Bill, which has passed its first reading and been discussed by the Health Select Committee, comes into play. Cancer Society advocacy and research manager Shayne Nahu told The AM Show the current standards are not up to par. 

The Bill passing would mean all sunscreens sold in New Zealand would have to meet the SPF levels as displayed on the packaging.

"At the moment, sunscreen is… considered a cosmetic and we don't believe that's good enough," Nahu said. "They need to be regulated as a therapeutic product and that's where we want it to go."

The Bill was introduced by National MP Todd Muller and was drawn in Parliament in March. It passed its first reading in April but only went before the Health Select Committee last week.

Australia already has such regulation in force. 

"What the new Bill will introduce is create better labelling and the important thing is also how you apply the product as well," Nahu said.

Almost 500 people died from melanoma in New Zealand last year, compared to 253 in 2000. Muller said earlier this year New Zealand's sun is brutal. It was crucial Kiwis can trust the products they're buying, he told Parliament in April.

The Ministry of Health's Cancer Action Plan 2019-20 identified the need to regulate sunscreens, as highlighted in Muller's Bill - which will go for its second reading shortly.