The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA or Act), enacted in 1967, directs the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration to issue regulations requiring that all "consumer commodities" be labeled to disclose net contents, identity of commodity, and name and place of business of the product's manufacturer, packer, or distributor. The Act authorizes additional regulations where necessary to prevent consumer deception (or to facilitate value comparisons) with respect to descriptions of ingredients, slack fill of packages, use of "cents-off" or lower price labeling, or characterization of package sizes. The Office of Weights and Measures of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce, is authorized to promote to the greatest practicable extent uniformity in State and Federal regulation of the labeling of consumer commodities.
Basic Requirements: The FPLA requires each package of household "consumer commodities" that is included in the coverage of the FPLA to bear a label on which there is:
- a statement identifying the commodity, e.g., detergent, sponges, etc.;
- the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor;
- and the net quantity of contents in terms of weight, measure, or numerical count (measurement must be in both metric and inch/pound units).
Purpose of the Act: The FPLA is designed to facilitate value comparisons and to prevent unfair or deceptive packaging and labeling of many household "consumer commodities."
FDA: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers the FPLA with respect to foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices. The FTC administers the FPLA with respect to other "consumer commodities" that are consumed or expended in the household. Many products that are exempt from the FPLA nevertheless fall within the purview of the Weights and Measures laws of the individual states.