Sunscreen products catch some heat over protection claims

Top News | Sophie Hui 16 Oct 2020

About 80 percent of sunscreen products failed to live up to their sun-protection claims, with four products unable to protect against ultraviolet rays, the Consumer Council says.

The watchdog tested 30 types of sunscreen products priced from HK$80 to HK$550 and found 25 were substandard.

The level of protection of sunscreen is measured by its sun protection factor, with SPF 15 generally adequate against ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, the council said.

But four products were found to have SPF values ranging from 9.8 to 14.3 - Curel UV Protection Essence SPF30, Sofina Beaute UV Cut Emulsion SPF30, Fancl Sunguard 50+ Protect SPF50+, and Bio-Essence Bio-Water Sunscreen SPF50+.

Of 16 "very high protection" models labeled SPF 50+, 14 were below 60 and did not meet European Union standards.

"Consumers who engage in outdoor activities for a prolonged period and use sunscreens with insufficient protection could increase their risks of skin darkening or sunburn, and even skin cancer," said the chairwoman of the council's research and testing committee, Nora Tam Fung-yee.

Fancl expressed regret over the watchdog's test reports, saying different results were found by two independent laboratories commissioned by the company.

"The Consumer Council has ignored the test reports conducted by two other independent laboratories which differed from its own report, and rejected international literature and expert opinions on the need to retest the product before publishing its results from a single laboratory," the company said added. The council stressed that its tests are compliant with international standards.

The watchdog said it has reviewed the test reports from the United States and the mainland submitted by Fancl and found that the information was incomplete.

The council also said it has asked Fancl for the professional qualification of the US laboratory, but received no reply.

Meanwhile, the council tested 37 dried spices and found that nine products contained carcinogenic aflatoxins - or ochratoxin A - with one containing amounts that exceeded local regulatory limits.

A curry powder sample sold in Yau Lee Bean Sauce Supreme in Causeway Bay contained 20.1 micrograms of aflatoxins per kilogram, exceeding the local limit of 15 micrograms.

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