FTC Amends Labeling Rules for Consumer Commodities
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has amended the rules and regulations for consumer commodities’ labels promulgated under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1451 et seq., (FPLA) to: (1) allow the omission of street addresses from labels if they are listed in any readily accessible, well-known, widely published, and publicly available resource; (2) incorporate a more comprehensive metric conversion chart; (3) explicitly allow the use of exponents with customary inch/pound measurements; (4) delete outdated prohibitions on retail price sales representations; and (5) acknowledge the role of the weights-and-measures laws of individual states.
The FPLA rules require consumer commodities to conspicuously state the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer or distributor, including a complete street address. Previously, a label could omit the street address if the address was listed in a current city or telephone directory. The revision expands the exception by permitting omission of a street address if it is listed in any readily accessible, well-known, widely published, and publicly available resource, including, but not limited to, a printed directory, electronic database, or website.
The revisions also adopt the metric conversion chart published in the National Institute of Standards and Technology Handbook 133 – 2015. This chart provides a more complete list of metric conversion factors.
Prior FPLA rules did not explicitly approve the use of exponents for the customary inch/pound measurements, although their use on consumer commodity labels was allowed. The new rules expressly permit such use.
The FTC has eliminated rules restricting the use of “cents off,” and “introductory offer,” or “economy size” from labels. Such restrictions were designed to combat deceptive practices that are no longer in use.
And finally, the new rules reflect the role of individual state laws by stating “[m]any products exempted through proceedings under section 5(b) of the Act and section 500.3(e) of this chapter or excluded under part 503 of this chapter nonetheless fall within the purview of the weights-and-measures laws of individual states.”
“Consumer commodities” are defined under the FPLA as any food, device, or cosmetic, and any other article, product, or commodity that is customarily produced or distributed for sale through retail sales agencies or instrumentalities for consumption or use by individuals for purposes of personal care or in the performance of services ordinarily rendered within the household, and which usually is consumed or expended in the course of such consumption or use. 15 U.S.C. § 1459(a). The FPLA does not apply to meat, poultry, tobacco, insecticide, fungicide, drug, alcohol, or seed products.
The revised rules will become effective 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register.