The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1966 was an effort by the federal government to compel companies to include detailed information regarding the contents of the package on a clearly visible label so that consumers could better determine whether the product met their personal standards and requirements for such areas as nutritional value, volume, and place of origin. Under the terms of the Act, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission were required to issue regulations specifying what information would henceforth be required to be included on product labels. The legislation passed by Congress included a statement of intent on the part of that institution that reads as follows:
§1451. Congressional Delegation of Policy.
Informed consumers are essential to the fair and efficient functioning of a free market economy. Packages and their labels should enable consumers to obtain accurate information as to the quantity of the contents and should facilitate value comparisons. Therefore, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to assist consumers and manufacturers in reaching these goals in the marketing of consumer goods.
The specific labeling requirements under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act include, in “conspicuous and easily legible type,” the following:
- A statement identifying the contents of the package, for example, “grape juice,” or “soap”;
- The net quantity inside the package, “measured in terms of weight or mass, measure, or numerical count” and number of servings that quantity is expected to provide;
- The name and location of the manufacturer of the contents.
The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1966 represented an early attempt on the part of the federal government to ensure accuracy in advertising and labeling. As companies developed or devised ways of circumventing the letter of these statutory provisions, the government was forced to continue to address the problem in subsequent legislation.