The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the time frame for sunscreen manufacturers to change labels that give consumers clearer, more accurate product information.

The label changes were previously set to come into force on 18 June 2012, which has now been extended to mid-December 2012.

According to a formal announcement of the change to be published in the Federal Register, some small manufacturers will even be given extra time until December 2013.

Personal Care Products Council sunscreen task force chairperson Farah Ahmed said they have requested for the additional time as changing labels on thousands of products is a huge undertaking and regulators typically allow more than the one year originally ordered for the changes.

The regulations will make labels clearer and more informative, and require warning labels on some sunscreens that are not strong enough to prevent ageing or cancer.

To make a cancer prevention claim, a product is required to carry a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and pass a test for providing ‘broad spectrum’ protection from both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) sun rays.

A Washington, DC-based advocacy group, the Environmental Working Group, has pushed the FDA to pass even stricter sunscreen regulations.

Environmental Working Group senior analyst Sonya Lunder, commenting on the extension, said, "Consumers need clear information about the limitations of sunscreen and can’t wait another season for these improvements to reach store shelves."

The actual contents in many of the products will not change dramatically as most products now called ‘broad spectrum’ already comply with the new regulations.