FTC Proposes to Require Labels to Include Metric Measurement

For Release

Labels and packaging for many common consumer products would state the contents in both the customary inch/pound measurement system and the metric system, under proposed amendments to Federal Trade Commission regulations announced today. The FTC seeks comments on the proposed amendments, which implement recent amendments to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). Enacted in 1967, the FPLA was designed to prevent unfair or deceptive packaging and labeling of most household consumer products. The FPLA requires that the label disclose the identity of the commodity; the name and place of business of the manu- facturer, packer, or distributor; and the net quantity of con- tents in terms of weight, measure, or numerical count. As originally enacted, the FPLA specified that the net quantity of contents disclosures be expressed in the traditional American inch/pound system of measurement. The FPLA grants enforcement authority to the FTC for certain products and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for others. Shortly after the enactment of the FPLA, the FTC published regulations that provided detailed guidance to industry on how to comply with the act. As mandated by the FPLA, these regulations required that net quantity of contents be expressed in terms of the traditional inch/pound system, but permitted an additional expression of net quantity in terms of the metric system of measurement.

Congress amended the FPLA in 1992 to require that the quantity disclosure on labels of consumer commodities be expressed in both the metric system and the customary inch/pound system of measurement. The proposed FTC amendments would imple- ment this requirement.

The Commission is seeking comments on its proposals, which would require that all labels printed after Feb. 14, 1994 for consumer commodities contain both the customary inch/pound system of measure and the metric system.

- more - Amendment to FPLA--08/16/93)

In addition, as part of its oversight responsibilities, the FTC periodically reviews its rules and guides to identify any that should be modified or rescinded. The Commission is also seeking comment on a number of questions pertaining to the costs and benefits of its FPLA regulations, including:

  • whether there is a continuing need for the regulations as currently promulgated;
  • the costs and benefits of the regulations on entities subject to their requirements;
  • what changes should be made to the regulations to minimize the economic effect on such entities;
  • whether the regulations overlap or conflict with any local, state or other federal laws or regulations; and
  • whether technology or economic conditions have changed since these rules were issued and, if so, what effect the changes have on the rules.

The proposed regulations and questions for commenters will be published in the Aug. 17 Federal Register. Comments will be accepted for 60 days, until Oct. 18, and should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments should be identified as "16 CFR Part 500 -- Comment."

Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, same address as above; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT: Brenda A. Mack, Office of Public Affairs 202-326-2182

STAFF CONTACT: Robert E. Easton, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3029 or Bret S. Smart, Los Angeles Regional Office 11000 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 13209 Los Angeles, California 90024 310-575-7890

(FTC Matter No. P938402)

(FPLA)