Dispute with stiftung warentest: when is sunscreen allowed to burn?

An organic suntan lotion receives a "poor" rating from the testers. The manufacturer now accuses the foundation of having used an incorrect procedure.

Should actually help to stay in a good mood: sunscreen in use Photo: dpa

After losing the legal dispute with Ritter Sport last year, Stiftung Warentest is now facing trouble again. This time it is about the just published sun protection test, in which 19 products with the sun protection factors were tested. Many products, including very inexpensive ones, scored "good". However, one biologically effective product was rated "poor".

The complaint: The manufacturer Eco Cosmetics did not guarantee sufficient UVA protection.

An accusation that the company from Laatzen in Lower Saxony does not accept. "The main problem with the test," says Dieter Sorge, managing director of Eco Cosmetics, is the specific methodology, in which the sun milk is "extremely heated."

"Our products have to fail this, because they don’t have any hidden synthetic light protection filters, but consist exclusively of natural ingredients that simply burn at higher temperatures."

Sorge therefore calls it "manipulative" that his products were tested under these conditions. It is not without reason that "the UVA in vitro test used is only approved in Europe." Worldwide, the test results achieved with it are "not permissible." Eco Cosmetics has therefore commissioned a so-called in vivo test, which is carried out directly on 20 people.

How admissible are the test results?

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Managing Director Dieter Sorge is convinced: "The result, which will be available toward the end of the year, will certainly put pressure on Stiftung Warentest." The company has already published the results of the first three test subjects. According to the Eco Cosmetics boss, the value achieved in them exceeds the official EU recommendation.

The fact is, however, that both test methods are approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Stiftung Warentest is correspondingly unagitated: "We use an internationally recognized state-of-the-art laboratory method for our sun protection tests. The accusation that we are "manipulative" is therefore completely unfounded," says Ursula Loggen, scientific director for the area of nutrition, cosmetics and health, in response to a taz inquiry.

The test also makes "no restriction with regard to the validity for certain dosage forms or compositions" and is therefore the "current method of choice." In addition, Loggen wonders why Eco Cosmetics did not contact the foundation either before or after the test, after all, they are "fundamentally open to a direct dialogue." Instead, only a "purely media-led debate" was taking place.

Jurgen Steinert from the consumer magazine okotest, on the other hand, focuses on a completely different aspect. He criticizes the in vivo test procedure "because test subjects are irradiated until they have a slight sunburn."

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