Snells Beach sunscreen maker shocked at lab revelations

Dr Alistair Lane with CoSkin’s AMA test results. He is frustrated at the laboratory’s behaviour.

The Snells Beach manufacturer of a boutique sunscreen has voiced his dismay after a Consumer NZ report discredited the laboratory that tested his product.

CoSkin director Dr Alistair Lane said everyone who used the US-based AMA Laboratories is now under a cloud, even if there is nothing wrong with their sunscreen.

Consumer NZ announced last month that in its latest test of sunscreens, nine of 20 products did not provide the sunscreen protection claimed. Those that failed included a Cancer Society product and several other big name brands. CoSkin was not among those tested.

Commenting on the failures, Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said for many years, sunscreen companies, including the Cancer Society, were sending in test results from AMA that conflicted with Consumer NZ’s own tests.

She went on to say that in August last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced AMA’s owner had been charged with falsifying test results from 1987 to April 2017. Some AMA staff had already pleaded guilty to the same offence.

“We think companies relying on these results should urgently re-test at a different lab to ensure they can back up claims,” she said.

Dr Lane said CoSkin had to borrow money to pay AMA $12,000 to conduct the CoSkin tests – one of the few labs in the world that tests sunscreen. He said the news that they have falsified results in some cases was shocking.

“If you are a testing lab, what would be the benefit to you to give a fraudulent result? I find it incredible.

It’s frustrating and disappointing” he said.

Dr Lane drew comfort from the fact that CoSkin’s product was tested in October 2017 and testing was delayed because the FDA was conducting an audit of the laboratory at the time.

He thinks it highly unlikely AMA would have falsified any CoSkin results following the audit

Asked whether CoSkin would consider re-testing at a different laboratory, Dr Lane said the costs were prohibitive for small players, though those dealing with higher volumes should certainly do so.

“We believe the laboratory would have no motivation to taint our results, which they appear to have done with some large companies for undisclosed reasons,” he said.

Dr Lane said it’s a pity CoSkin was not part of the Consumer NZ test, and he would be more than happy for Consumer NZ to test its product.

“For us, duty of care to our consumers is a high value. It’s important our products do what they are intended to do.”

CoSkin launched its conditioning sunscreen at the end of 2017. It uses a revolutionary anhydrous gel that sticks to the skin even when swimming.

Meanwhile, Ms Chetwin said the government needed to urgently regulate sunscreens.

“New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer and melanoma in the world, but the sunscreen standard remains voluntary,” she said. 

Sunscreens that Consumer NZ identified as not meeting the level of protection claimed on their label were:

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ A Touch of Mango and Papaya; Invisible Zinc Face + Body Mineral Sunscreen SPF50; Natio Suncare Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF50+; Frankie Apothecary Natural Sunscreen +Kawakawa and Antioxidant SPF50; MooGoo Natural Sunscreen SPF40; Cancer Society Everyday Sun Lotion SPF50+; Marine Blue Australia Dry Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+; Sunsense Ultra SPF50+; Banana Boat Dry Balance Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+

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