WASHINGTON, DC – After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced it is reversing course and delaying comprehensive new sunscreen standards for six additional months, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) criticized the FDA for failing to protect consumers.

After years of prodding by Reed, the FDA announced last summer that starting June 18, 2012, new regulations would for the first time require comprehensive testing and prevent misleading labeling of sunscreen products.  But the FDA is now giving the industry an extra six months to make changes, meaning they will not take effect until mid-December, instead of this summer.  Some small manufacturers will have their deadlines to comply pushed back to December 2013.

“Quality sunscreen offers critical protection, particularly during the summer months when millions of Americans head outdoors and to the beach.  The FDA simply isn’t giving consumers the protection they deserve,” said Reed, who wrote the Sunscreen Labeling Protection (or SUN) Act to prod the FDA to strengthen sunscreen labeling standards.  “For too long the FDA has allowed manufacturers to get away with inaccurate claims about sun protection.  The FDA has been considering regulations to restrict these claims since 1978.  It is time for them to stop dragging their feet and put the new sunscreen safety and labeling standards into effect.”

Currently, the FDA only requires sunscreen testing and labeling for sun protection factors (SPF), which mostly measures UVB rays, known for causing sunburns.  But there is no consistency in the SPF number and the protection it provides from UVB rays and under the current system, manufacturers have been free to use increasingly high SPF numbers, leaving consumers confused and/or with the false impression that they are getting total protection from the sun.   And, there are no current labeling standards that apply to the level of UVA protection a product provides.  UVA rays are a major cause of skin cancer and premature aging.

“This is a public health issue and a situation where consumers deserve to know that the sunscreen products they purchase are safe, effective, and easy to understand so they may better protect themselves and their children from the sun’s harmful rays.  The FDA today took a major step backwards and as a result, more consumers will likely get burned this summer.  I will continue to monitor this process closely to ensure the FDA and manufacturers are held accountable,” concluded Reed.