Consumer Protections

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave the first presidential address before Congress devoted entirely to consumer interests. In this speech he recognized that consumers' rights to safety, information, choice, freshness, convenience, and attractiveness needed protection. Gaps between the existing regulatory bodies—the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—meant that the consumer was inadequately protected. As a result of the work of consumer interest groups throughout the 1960s and of Esther Peterson, the special assistant to the president on consumer affairs, Congress enacted the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) in 1967.

The FPLA directed the FTC and the FDA to issue regulations requiring that all consumer commodities be labeled to disclose net contents, the identity of the commodity, and the name and place of business of the product's manufacturer, packer, and distributor. The act authorized additional regulations where necessary to prevent consumer deception or facilitate value comparisons with respect to descriptions of ingredients, slack fill of packages, use of “cents-off” or lowerprice labeling, and the characterization of package sizes. The Office of Weights and Measures of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a branch of the Department of Commerce, was authorized to promote uniformity in state and federal regulations for the labeling of consumer commodities. ...

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