Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) today was joined by Chuck Bell, Programs Director of Consumers Union, to slam the FDA's recent delay on implementing sunscreen labeling regulations and to tout House passage of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act, which includes a provision to prevent the FDA from further compliance delay beyond December 17, 2012.
"I am deeply concerned for the safety of American families as we move into the peak of summer," said Lowey. "With the FDA delay in implementing the requirement for sunscreen manufacturers to disclose the protections offered by products from UVB and UVA rays, consumers are forced to spend another summer questioning their sunscreen labels. As a grandmother of eight who spends a lot of time outdoors with family, I stock up on sunscreen every summer. Every year I and millions of Americans find the labels more and more confusing. We must ensure that consumers are confident they are receiving the protections they need during the summer months."
"Consumers are being misled by the SPF ratings that are used today, and they need better information now," said Bell. "Consumer Reports tests have repeatedly shown that sunscreens with a high SPF rating may not actually protect people against the sun's UVA and it is essential that the FDA require better labeling to reflect the effectiveness of these products. The FDA and the sunscreen manufacturers have already had plenty of time to fix this problem. We commend Rep. Lowey and the House of Representatives for their leadership in taking action to expedite accurate product labeling requirements for sunscreens."
In August 2007, in response to legislation drafted by Lowey, the FDA issued draft regulations to require sunscreen manufacturers to disclose the protection their products offer not just against sunburn-causing UVB rays, but against skin cancer-causing UVA rays. The regulations also include limiting SPF labels to no higher than 50, prohibiting sunscreens from using misleading claims such as "sweat-proof" or "waterproof," and requiring labels to indicate how long you can expect the product to last while swimming or sweating.
The regulations were finalized on June 15, 2011, and manufacturers were given twelve months to comply. In May, the FDA announced that manufacturers would be given an additional six months to comply, citing manufacturers' need for additional time to finalize their new labels and a potential shortage of sunscreen for the summer months.
On Wednesday, the House passed the final version of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act, which includes a provision that will prohibit the FDA from delaying implementation beyond December 17, 2012.
"This must be the last summer that American families endure inadequate labeling of sunscreen," said Lowey. "Consumers need the peace of mind that the sunscreen they use will protect them from both UVB and UVA rays."