Last summer, the FDA told manufacturers they had until this June to revise their sunscreen labels in order to distinguish brands that could be labeled as "broad spectrum," meaning they protect against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays, which contribute to skin cancer and early skin aging. The new guidelines also say brands cannot claim to be sweatproof or waterproof on their labels, to alert users that they must reapply the products.
Manufacturers said they were having difficulty meeting the original deadline, which is less than a month away. So in a formal announcement, the FDA said it will give companies six more months, until December, to make the necessary changes. Smaller companies have an even more generous deadline of December 2013.
The agency argues that without the extension, there would be sunscreen shortages. "We asked for the additional time," Farah Ahmed, chair of the sunscreen task force at the Personal Care Products Council, told USA Today. Ahmed said changing labels on thousands of products "is a huge undertaking" and that unprepared manufacturers wouldn't be able to ship new products after June 18, resulting in shortages.
"The FDA took a major step backwards today, and as a result, more consumers will likely get burned this summer," Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed told the Associated Press. Reed has long encouraged the FDA to enforce stricter sunscreen regulations.
Image: Child with sunscreen, via Shutterstock.