Nearly 6 months after Friends of the Earth lodged an ACCC complaint against Antaria for misleadingly marketing the product as ‘non-nano’, the company has finally admitted that its ZinClear IM sunscreen ingredient is a nanomaterial. The ACCC is due to make public its findings regarding the complaint shortly.

Antaria quietly made public the fact its sunscreen ingredient was a nanomaterial in an ASX announcement just before Christmas. Previously Antaria had strenuously denied that its product was a nanomaterial both to the media, the ASX and in its written correspondence with FoE.

A number of sunscreen brands used Antaria’s ZinClear IM product in some of their products and had repeated its non-nano claims. Affected brands include Invisible Zinc, Cancer Council, Natural Instinct, ChemMart, Terry White Chemists, Pharmacy Choice, WotNot, Graham’s Sunclear, and Woolworths Select.

Louise Sales, Nanotechnology Project Coordinator with Friends of the Earth says “Finally Antaria has admitted what we have known for months – which is that ZinClear IM is a nanomaterial and that Antaria has been misleading both companies and consumers by claiming to be non-nano. What’s more, we believe that staff at Antaria has known ZinClear IM is a nanomaterial for years.”

In February last year, Antaria confirmed in writing the patent that was the basis of their ZinClear IM product. FoE commissioned a report from the National Measurement Institute, looking at this patent, which concluded Zinclear IM is a nanomaterial according to key definitions which have existed since 2010. Despite this, Antaria has been marketing the product as ‘non-nano’.

“Antaria’s behavior is completely unacceptable and we are hoping for a strong ruling from the ACCC to send a clear message to industry that companies can’t get away with misleading conduct like this,” said Ms Sales.

“This scandal clearly demonstrates the need for nano-ingredients in sunscreen to be labelled. If the Government had made the testing and labelling of nano-ingredients compulsory for companies we would never be in this mess.

“From this year, European regulators are requiring sunscreen companies to produce safety data and label nano-ingredients in sunscreens. Why can’t Australians have the same protection as Europeans?” Ms Sales concludes.