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As part of the Federal Trade Commission’s systematic review of all agency rules and guides, the FTC seeks public comment on a Rule that governs retail food advertising.  The Rule prohibits food retailers from advertising products at a stated price unless the products are in stock and available during the effective period of the advertisement, or the ad discloses that supplies are limited or available only at some outlets.  It is not a violation if the retailer meets other conditions, such as offering a “raincheck” for the advertised products, or a comparable product at the advertised price.

The FTC is seeking comments on the costs and benefits of the Retail Food Store Advertising and Marketing Practices Rule, also known as the Unavailability Rule, which was originally enacted in 1971.  The FTC also seeks comment on whether the Rule should be repealed or left unchanged; amended to include drugstores, department stores, or other types of retail stores; or be changed to account for changes in technology or economic conditions since it was last updated in 1989.

The Commission vote approving the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was 5-0. It is available on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release and will be published in the Federal Register by August 19, 2011.  Comments must be received by October 19, 2011.  All comments received will be posted at  (FTC File No. P104203; the staff contact is Jock Chung, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2984)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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